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2nd longest stretch of Iowa's 4-lane highway system opens in Sac, Calhoun counties

Monday, November 26, 2012

To celebrate a 26-mile stretch of four-lane Highway 20 in Sac and Calhoun Counties that opened earlier this week, a ribbon cutting was held Wednesday near Early. From left: Shirley Phillips, Highway 20 Corridor Association President; Gov. Terry Branstad; Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds; Rep. Steve King and Paul Trombino, DOT Director.
More than 60 years after efforts for a four-lane Highway 20 began, a 26-mile stretch between Sac and Calhoun Counties has officially opened.

The completed segment represents the second longest stretch of four-lane highway to open in Iowa since the original interstate system was built.

Several hundred attended a grand opening ribbon cutting event Wednesday morning, held at a truck turnout area two miles east of Highway 71.

"We are 26 miles closer to increased economic development and a brighter future," said Shirley Phillips, Highway 20 Corridor Association President. "We have been looking forward to this for decades."

Following the national anthem, sung by Ridge View Middle School Choir, and ribbon cutting, residents from surrounding communities mingled with honored guests at a reception at Early United Methodist Church.

Special guests included Gov. Terry Branstad; Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds; Congressman Steve King; State Senators Daryl Beall and Mark Segebart; State Representatives Gary Worthan and Dave Tjepkes; DOT Director Paul Trombino; DOT Commissioners Charese Yanney, Barry Cleaveland and David Rose and Highway 20 Corridor Association Members.

"It is a great day here in Early to see this connection linked up," Rep. Steve King said, as he thanked those gathered for their personal efforts. "It's not just been planning and funding, but also a battle of expectations."

"We still have work to do, but we will link this up with Sioux City," the Congressman continued, met by applause from the audience. "I want to be able to pull out of Sioux City, set my cruise control on 65 and not touch my brake pedal until I reach Dubuque."

According to Gov. Terry Branstad, 2012 broke records for the most roads built in Iowa.

"This stretch is especially important to economic growth," he said. "It's something a lot of people have worked hard on for a long period of time, through bipartisan efforts."

Lt. Gov Kim Reynolds and DOT Director Paul Trombino described the extended superhighway as a way to move goods more efficiently, as Iowa competes in a global marketplace.

Completing the 26-mile stretch is a "big, positive step forward," the governor said, as plans fall into place to complete the rest of the four-lane road.

Using chocolate M&M candies to illustrate the highway between Moorland and Moville, Buck Boekelman, Highway 20 Corridor Association, said he hopes to see the road fully completed within the next 10 years.

Acquisition for expansion in Woodbury County between Moville and Correctionville is currently underway, as Association Members continue to lobby for the final 30 miles to be added to the DOT's Five-Year Plan.

Local government officials spoke with the Pilot-Tribune regarding how the extended four-lane highway will benefit Storm Lake.

"The general public doesn't have a clue how big this is for economic development," said State Rep. Gary Worthan. "Storm Lake United has repeatedly had conversations with businesses who ask how close the nearest four-lane road is. After hearing it's 60 miles away, the conversation is over."

In addition to production and industry having another route to Storm Lake, tourism will also increase, King said, noting he has appreciated the city's support for the project.

"This is a great day for the City of Storm Lake," Mayor Jon Kruse commented. "Our efforts to grow business and industry will now be much easier, and when the road is complete to Moville, it'll be another great day."

Learn more about the Highway 20 project at 4lane20.com.

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