The first “summit” of the U-S 20 Corridor Association tonight (Thursday) will bring together stakeholders all along the route, even parts that aren’t done. Shirley Phillips, president of the Association, is there. She says the organization first came together in the 1960s, when property was purchased in Ida County for a four-lane that still hasn’t been completed, and members have been working on the project since the 1980s. Phillips says the US-20 Corridor Association represents “the best of local, state, federal, private-sector and individual citizens” all working together to improve the quality of life for everyone along the 308 mile corridor across Iowa. But Phillips is also head of the economic and tourism development commission in Sac County, where the highway still isn’t complete. So far it’s connected Fort Dodge with Dubuque, she says, and opening 27 miles in Grundy and Hardin Counties in August 2002 was the largest opening of a sgtretch of four-lane highway since the introduction of the Interstate Highway System in the fifties. Now she says a 90-mile stretch between Morland Moville still awaits completion. Phillips says 84-percent of the traffic that enters Iowa runs east and west. Phillips says job creation, economic-development, access to markets and freedom of mobility all depend on a strong transportation network. She charges that “Interstate-80 is overcrowded and unsafe,” and she says we need another east-west route for products and services. Phillips has heard the complaints that state transportation money is unfairly directed to cities and away from sparsely-populated parts of Iowa. She says “somehow our money seems to be re-routed to the urban areas,” and she says western Iowa can grow too if it gets the transportation network it deserves. Phillips says western Iowa keeps growing and the region west of Interstate-35 and north of I-80 is the largest land mass without a four-lane road in the state. Tonight’s summit is at Buena Vista University in Storm Lake.
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