Monday, September 15, 2008

US 20 In Iowa: The US 20 Corridor Association

Image from US 20 Corridor Association

The headline on the The US 20 Corridor Association’s web site says “Go Four It!” That’s because their work is to promote making US Route 20 to four lane service across the state. One goal is to relieve traffic pressures on I-80, which also cuts through the state. And it seems they want to do it right, by being cautious of historical and environmental concerns.

The US 20 Corridor Association’s web site is worth a visit for anyone interested in US 20, and shows they have a deep respect for the nation’s longest road. You can also find links to traffic information, pictures, news, and also a PDF document with their 2008-2012 plan. It’s a very comprehensive look at what is probably a very big undertaking.

Here’s an example of one of the articles written on the web site:

The US Highway 20 Northwest Iowa's Gateway to the World

US Highway 20 was one of the very first coast-to-coast highways in the United States. Starting in downtown Boston, it travels through Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming, Idaho, and Oregon.

US 20 is a direct route from Iowa's manufacturing and food processing industries to the northeastern United States, one of the world's largest and wealthiest markets. US Highway 20 is also a direct route for Iowa's exports to the seaports of the Northwest.

Manufactured products trucked out of northern Iowa include farm machinery, pre-molded counter tops, doors, lamb, turkey, ostrich, pork and beef products, groceries, boat trailers, model airplanes, pet food, rebuilt farm machinery parts, highway construction equipment, consumer dairy products, popcorn, food, furniture, home appliances, computers, truck trailers and bodies, hydraulics, baked goods, grain bins, park equipment, plastic products, home products, glass products, fishing tackle, manufactured homes, snow mobiles, personal water craft, building products, cattle feeders, paint, baseball caps, stained glass architectural products, utility trucks, veterinary and medical products, pharmaceuticals, flowers, recycled paper, plastic and steel, recycling equipment, commercial refrigeration equipment, barbecue sauce, cattle and hog equipment, packaging materials, grain products of various kinds, candy, genetics, ethanol, and a few dozen more.

50% of the millions and millions of bushels of corn and soybeans grown in the area are shipped out of northwest Iowa by truck according to estimates by the CC&P Railroad.

30 of the 109 Iowa companies employing 1000 or more people are located in or have a presence in the 10 counties of the US Highway 20 primary corridor including HyVee, IBP, UPS, Pioneer Hi-Bred, Wells Dairy, Gomaco, VT Industries, Midwest Independent Evapco, and Style Craft. All these are highway dependent companies.

6,645 business establishments are located in the 10 counties of the primary corridor of Highway 20.

11,153 businesses are located in the 19 counties that US 20 serves as an arterial highway feeding to and from I-29 and I-35.

US 20, soon to be completed to four lanes east of I-35, is the primary artery connecting with northwest Iowa' highway system. US Highways 169, 71, 59, and 75, State Highways 10, 18, 4, and 60, and multitude of secondary county roads feed to and from US 20. These primary roads serve the Iowa Great Lakes (Iowa's largest tourist area) and the thousands of businesses and farmers in the northwest part of our state.

US 20 is northwest Iowa's arterial link to the NAFTA main line and connects all North-South interstates in Iowa.

The US 20 route to Chicago from northwest Iowa is approximately 100 miles shorter than taking I-80. At an average trucking cost over a $1.00 per mile the savings per truck load in transportation alone amounts to more than $200.00 per round trip to Chicago and beyond.

Most of northwest Iowa is 60 to 90 miles from a four-lane highway. Today more than ever, one of the basic building blocks of economic growth is not just good transportation, but excellent transportation systems. Economic growth in northwest Iowa means increases in jobs, population, school enrollment, tax base, and the basic wealth of northwest Iowa's people. Economic growth means decreases in costs of welfare and crime.

The economy of northwest 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 northwest Iowa is important to the entire state.

The investment in bringing US Highway 20 to full four-lane service across the entire state is an issue of great economic importance to all of Iowa and certainly to the thousands of businesses and hundreds of communities in northwest Iowa.

The real economic benefit is long term. It is measured by lowered transportation cost of moving goods and services into and out of Iowa and by the opportunities for expansion of markets, increases in jobs and population for the entire northern half of Iowa.

Finishing US Highway 20 to a four-lane from Dubuque to Sioux City is a good investment for all of Iowa.

The US Route 20 Blog homepage can be found here.

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