Highway 20 seeing increased traffic since November's lane expans - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Highway 20 seeing increased traffic since November's lane expansion

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This stretch of highway in Moville is four lanes, but 43 miles remain for the DOT to convert. This stretch of highway in Moville is four lanes, but 43 miles remain for the DOT to convert.

It's been discussed for decades, expanding Highway 20 to four lanes, but some doubted that would ever happen. Now, one stretch of completed road has many feeling optimistic about the project's future.

For years, Justin Nelson has driven Highway 20 for work.

"I've always went on it, you know, old 20. I was glad to see it open. It saves me a lot of time now, and we have a lot more traffic coming this way, for business," said Nelson, a Pierson, Iowa resident.

Others avoided it.

"I would never take it before because you'd go through all those small towns and you couldn't make up any time on that," said Darrin Merrill of Spencer, Iowa.

"Traffic was pretty bad. Now, there's a lot more room," said Cindy Garthoff of Early, Iowa.

In November, when a 30 mile stretch of road opened from Early to near Pomeroy, drivers quickly took notice.

"Now, we just hop on right here. Life is a lot easier, a lot faster," said Garthoff.

"Twenty saves us a lot of time when we're driving to Des Moines, because you can go 65 on it," said Merrill.

And the DOT says there's plenty of company on the roadway.

In March alone, the DOT says they saw an increase in the number of cars going down Highway 20 along this stretch by nearly 50 percent from one year ago.

But, there's still work to be done to make the remaining 43 miles four lanes wide. Sections from Moville to Holstein still don't flow at optimal levels.

Ann Trimble-Ray with the U.S. 20 Corridor has advocated Highway 20's four-lane expansion for two decades now. She says it's too close for folks to give up now.

"Iowa right now only has one east-west four lane highway, and that's Interstate 80. It's overcrowded, it's dangerous. They need some relief down there," said Trimble-Ray.

Joel Ladehoff was part of the survey crew that helped prep Highway 20 for expansion. For his business now, he travels all over the state, but avoids taking 20 back to Sioux City because of the reduced speeds.

"I would be more apt to go to Sioux City, using the new highway quite often, instead of trying to cut over wherever I can. I'd definitely be using it more," said Ladehoff, an Early resident.

And the numbers, so far, show he wouldn't be the only one.

In June, the Iowa Department of Transportation is set to approve its new five year plan for construction on Highway 20 that will take the project through 2018.

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