Highway 20 expected to give towns a business boost
EARLY, Iowa (KTIV) -
Businesses are already getting an economic boost from US Highway 20. The 310-mile road touches Iowa's east and west borders. The road is in a decades long process of changing from a two-lane to a four-lane. There's still years of work before it's done, but some towns say it's well worth the wait.
Around Thanksgiving, a 26-mile stretch of 20, connecting western Calhoun County to eastern Sac County, will be open for traffic. That section makes 20 a four-lane from Early to Dubuque, a milestone for officials.
"You'll be able to get on Highway 20 at Early, put the cruise control on and not put your foot on the break until you hit Dubuque. That will be a great ride," said Ann Trimble-Ray with the U.S. 20 Corridor Association.
Trimble-Ray does communications for the association, a group that's been working on 20 since the 60's. She says construction and funding are planned for the last remaining sections, except about 30 miles, from Correctionville to Early.
As officials wait for that funding, towns along 20 have already started reaping benefits.
"I have been working on it for close to 25 years," said Early Mayor Sharon Ann Irwin.
Irwin says anticipation of higher traffic on 20 has sprouted some new development in her town. Check out the Casey's. It's new.
"It's been in the works for about a year and a half," said Irwin.
"Do you attribute this being here to Highway 20?" asked Reporter Forrest Saunders.
"A lot of it, yes," said Irwin.
Trimble-Ray says history shows four-lanes increase traffic counts by powerful percentages. No different for 20, she says.
"They increase anywhere from 10% to 50%. We're hoping for the higher. I think as the traffic increases and the demand for services increase, we'll continue to see more economic development along the corridor," said Trimble-Ray.
DOT officials say that about 30-mile stretch from Correctionville to Early, could be programmed somewhere between 2014-2018. They say we might know more when the Transportation Commission begins budgeting for that time period next year.
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