(Photo by Ashley Miller)
A 26-mile stretch between Sac and Calhoun counties officially opened Wednesday, years after efforts for a four-lane Highway 20 began. The completed segment represents the second-longest stretch of four-lane highway to open in Iowa since the original interstate system was built.
"This stretch is especially important to economic growth," Gov. Terry Branstad said. "It's something a lot of people have worked hard on for a long period of time, through bipartisan efforts."
Iowa Great Lakes Corridor Development President and CEO Kathy Evert couldn't agree more.
"As we've shared with the DOT over the past several years, the best east-west access to our area wasn't even in the state of Iowa," Evert said, referencing the I-90 stretch across the southern portion of Minnesota. "I think its going to help open up better access for all of the corridor region."
She added, "I think it will be good to watch, and we will be watching, what it means for traffic counts on Highway 71 south of Spencer to Highway 20."
Several hundred attended a grand opening ribbon cutting event held at a truck turnout area two miles east of Highway 71. Gov. Terry Branstad, Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds, Congressman Steve King, state senators and representatives joined DOT representatives and Highway 20 Corridor Association members at the opening.
"It is a great day here in Early to see this connection linked up," Rep. Steve King said, as he thanked those gathered for their personal efforts. "It's not just been planning and funding, but also a battle of expectations."
"We still have work to do, but we will link this up with Sioux City," the Congressman continued, met by applause from the audience. "I want to be able to pull out of Sioux City, set my cruise control on 65 and not touch my brake pedal until I reach Dubuque."
Completing the 26-mile stretch is a "big, positive step forward," the governor said, as plans fall into place to complete the rest of the four-lane road. A Highway 20 Corridor Association representative said the organization hoped to see the road fully completed within the next 10 years.
Acquisition for expansion in Woodbury County, between Moville and Correctionville, is currently underway, and Association members continue to lobby for the final 30 miles to be added to the DOT's Five-Year Plan.
Attempts to contact Bob Fagen, Spencer city manager, and Bob Rose, president of Spencer Mainstreet - both of whom attended the event - were unsuccessful Monday.