Support for the Expansion of U.S. 20
It is vital for the protection and growth of Iowa's economy that a serious effort is made to complete the Highway 20 four-lane project. As you know, the Highway 20 project has a broad base of public support across the State of Iowa, including mine. I was pleased to provide the Federal Highway Administrator, Mary E. Peters, with the opportunity to listen first hand to the community leaders who have been working hard to advance this critical project for many years.
Congressman Tom Latham
Why Four-Lane '20' is Vital
Seldom a day goes by that we do not hear someone discussing the status of Iowa. It may be with regard to a declining population, lack of jobs and/or budget problems at city hall or the school.
Rural Iowa most certainly has it share of the aforementioned problems. Chamber of Commerce and community development groups are stressed to the limit as they struggle for survival.
With these points in mind, I find a lot of satisfaction and promise with efforts of the Highway 20 Association. The 20 Association is a volunteer group spending its time pursuing the completion of the planned four lanes of highway, Dubuque to Sioux City.
While I personally have only been involved four or five years, I know many who have pursued this dream for decades. It is happening!
It is, in my opinion, the biggest thing to happen to northwest Iowa in 100 years. Remember U.S. 69 going north and south, or the Lincoln Highway carrying us east to west? Enter interstate 80 and then 35 - how it changed Iowa. How it changed America!
We know statistically that 74% of Iowa´s traffic travels East to West. But I-80 and 90 across southern Minnesota can no longer carry the load.
Highway 20 must be completed to link the corridor - Nebraska, Illinois, Wisconsin, etc. - but more importantly offer alternative routes to Iowans.
We have seen the figures and heard the testimony of those living along Iowa´s completed four-lane corridors, particularly Cedar Rapids to Iowa City. The population increases. The communities develop, land values improve, time is saved with added commuter safety. The facts are very impressive.
So, we have covered my personal enthusiasm for the Highway 20 project. Here is what we need from every community with a vision of a better future. If Iowa, and particularly northwest Iowa, is to grow we need a better transportation system.
I travel Iowa for my company. Eastern Iowa has that better transportation. They continue to improve that as they fully understand the impact of a modern transportation system. Granted, good transportation costs, but it pays enormous dividends in the long run. We are in this for the long run.
So, the Highway 20 Association needs members who share our vision for more and better development. We need more good minds sharing their thoughts with an already ambitious group of people intent upon improving the quality of life in Northwest Iowa.
Finally, please don´t wait to be asked again. We are asking you to support the "20" Association´s effort now! It is our hope that every county, town, chamber, Rotary, K.C., Jaycee, Lion´s, etc. get involved.
The trucking industry helps us sum up this significant situation with their slogan: "If you got it, a truck delivered it."
In this age of "next day delivery" - mostly by truck - we need to be able to provide an opportunity to move raw materials and finished products in northwest Iowa in a safe and efficient manner. The new and existing industries located in our region have been promised a better transportation system - based on the status reports provided to us by the Iowa DOT over the past couple of years. We have continued to tell them that we are expecting "Progress as Promised."
As an economic developer for the past fifteen years, I can tell you that the first question a prospective industry asks is, "How close are you to an Interstate or 4-lane Highway?" You'll find many of us in this portion of the state have lost our "bid" for businesses on this reason alone.
Three new Ethanol plants have sprung up on the corridor and within the adjoining tiers of counties with 5 more under construction and two more under consideration. These value added agricultural opportunities will increase the demand for a better transportation system.
The economy of northern Iowa historically has been an important contributor to the state's economic well-being. Continuing the economic growth of and turning around the population decline of western Iowa is important to the entire state. The investment in bringing U.S. 20 to a full four-lane service across the state is an issue of great economic importance to all of Iowa and certainly to the thousands of businesses and hundreds of communities in northern Iowa.
The need for the completion of 4 lane for U.S. Highway 20 is now more eminent than ever.
Shirley Phillips, Executive Director
Sac Economic & Tourism Development
615 West Main St.
Sac City, IA 50583
On behalf of Prairie Energy Cooperative I would like to extend my support for the completion of Highway 520 as a four lane east-west thoroughfare across Iowa as soon as possible.
The completion of this corridor is vital not only for rural economic development of our communities, but also will provide a greatly needed avenue for communication and transportation in northern Iowa.
Mr. Mike Hagen
Executive Vice President/GM
Prairie Energy Cooperative
Letter to the Editor of the Waterloo Courier, Jan. 27, 2002
Cedar Falls - This is in response to your article in the Jan. 13 Courier about the Iowa Department of Transportation Commission regarding Chairman Tom Aller's chastising Roger Pease of the Highway 20 Association for his so called "counter-productive remarks."
I believe Chairman Aller needs to learn or review the history of U.S. 20 west of Fort Dodge. Or perhaps he prefers to just ignore it.
My father was a longtime member of the Highway 20 Association in Western Iowa up to his death in 1974. I recall him telling me about attending a meeting of the Association in Sioux City in the late '60's. A highway commissioner addressed the group and proudly announced "within 10 years one should be able to drive from Sioux City to New York City on four-lane U.S. 20 without a stop sign or a traffic signal." Implying, of course that U.S. 20 would be widened to four-lane across the whole state within that period.
Some time later work started on the widening of U.S. 20 from Sioux City to just east of Moville (about 20 miles). And right of way for widening was purchased all the way to U.S. 71 just south of Storm Lake. After the 20 miles were widened, work ceased, and the right of way in that 50 mile stretch from Moville to U.S. 71 has been unused by the commission since that time.
During that time little has been done to the west end of U.S. 20 except for routine patching some overlay of the old concrete, replacing a bridge or two and then only as two lane bridges. Some of that old concrete was, I believe, poured in the 30's.
Commission Aller surely has to be aware of the promises made over the years to those communities west of Fort Dodge.
Duane A. Hunting
Hy-Vee Concerned about Northwest Iowa's Highway System, Jan. 16, 2002
Hy-Vee officials stated recently that they were concerned about northwest Iowa's highway system. Ruth Mitchell, a spokeswoman at Hy-Vee's corporate headquarters in West Des Moines said,
"Not just Highway 20 but Highway 71 and Highway 59. They are really vital for the continued viability of our facility in Cherokee. We run 5 million miles a year in trucks out of that distribution facility. The road conditions have been deteriorating for some time up there, and not a lot has been put into improvements. So it is a very important issue to us."
Ethanol Plant Needs Highway, Feb. 18, 2002
Quad County Corn Processors Cooperative is an 18 million gallon per year ethanol plant recently opened just 2 miles south of Galva at the intersection of Highway 20 and county road M25. The plant is truly a grassroots project that has been funded by area producers who are interested in adding value to their farming operation. Grain farmers area attracted by the 6.8 million bushels of corn that will be used as feedstock to produce the ethanol. Livestock producers benefit from the approximately 130,000 tons of quality feed that will be produced as a co-product of the ethanol manufacturing process. Our 400 plus members are generally located within the counties of Ida, Sac, Buena Vista, and Cherokee.
One of the main components in this whole story is Highway 20. It is the critical access to markets that drove the decision to locate Quad County Corn Processors where it is. In order for any entity to thrive, it must be fed. The source of nourishment needs to be plentiful and the delivery system dependable. Our delivery system is Highway 20. It is anticipated that there will be 30-40 trucks arriving at the plant each day, not including the traffic generated to deliver the corn at harvest.
If the highway is adequate now, will it be when the CO2 plant opens or the next business opens? I am encouraged by the dialog with the Iowa DOT. They have been interested in our progress and know about our concerns.
It is important that cities, counties, businesses, and individuals stay active in organizations such as Highway 20 Corridor Association to keep the progress moving forward. Thank you for all your efforts.
Mike Jerke, General Manager
Quad County Corn Processors