HOLSTEIN, Iowa — After six decades of construction, an expansion project to build a four-lane expressway across northern Iowa is finished.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held Friday in Holstein for the completed U.S. Highway 20 corridor, which now extends 302 miles to connect Sioux City with Fort Dodge, Waterloo and Dubuque, the Des Moines Register reported.
Road widening of the expressway’s first 3-mile section started in 1958. But the remaining miles have taken 60 years to complete.
“Most people never thought they would see this in their lifetime,” said Shirley Phillips, president of the U.S. Highway 20 Corridor Association, a lobbying group that represents communities along the route.
Gov. Kim Reynolds and Rep. Steve King will join Iowa Department of Transportation officials in celebrating the route, which is an alternative to the often-congested Interstate Highway 80 across Iowa’s midsection.
Widening the final 40-mile stretch of Highway 20 cost about $215 million. The Legislature provided funding for the project’s final stages by approving a 10-cent per gallon increase in the state’s gas and diesel fuel tax.
Former Sen. Bill Anderson, a Republican who voted in favor of the fuel tax increase, said Department of Transportation officials had no plans to complete the project without addition state revenue.
“The reality is this wouldn’t have happened without the gas tax,” Anderson said. “The money just wasn’t there.”
The completed four-lane corridor will slightly reduce driving times for motorists and should spark more businesses along the route, such as convenience stores, restaurants and motels, according to Iowa State University economist David Swenson. But the highway expansion likely won’t reverse long-term trends that have drawn labor away from rural communities and toward Iowa’s metropolitan areas and regional trade centers, he said.
“Will this make a difference with regards to the location, or the siting of manufacturing firms and other kinds of firms? I don’t think so,” Swenson said.
The Associated Press is an independent global news organization dedicated to factual reporting. Founded in 1846, AP today remains the most trusted source of fast, accurate, unbiased news in all formats and the essential provider of the technology and services vital to the news business. The Trucker Media Group is subscriber of The Associated Press has been granted the license to use this content on TheTrucker.com and The Trucker newspaper in accordance with its Content License Agreement with The Associated Press.