Efforts to widen 88 miles of U.S. Highway 20 in western Iowa from two lanes to four received a boost today. The Iowa Transportation Commission approved placing 48-million dollars into a project that will widen a 12 mile section between Sac City and Early. Shirley Phillips, president of the U.S. 20 Corridor Association, says residents of the area have been looking forward to this day.

“I’ve been working on all of the Highway 20 corridor between Fort Dodge and Sioux City for well over 20 years,” Phillips said. “The Highway 20 Corridor Association was actually formed back in the 1960s, so it’s been a long time coming.”

Today’s action means funding is in place for Highway 20 to be widened to four lanes from Moorland, in Webster County, to Early, in Sac County, by 2013. Phillips, who lives in Sac City, says it’s an important issue is terms of both economic development and safety considering Iowa’s growing ethanol and wind energy industries.

“There’s more and more truck traffic that travels right through the heart of Sac City everyday. It’s always a concern when we’re hauling wind turbines and goodness knows what…so that’s one of our considerations – to try and get some of that truck traffic rerouted around the downtown, heart of the city,” Phillips said.

Once the Moorland to Early section is complete, the only portion of Highway 20 in Iowa that will still be two lanes will cover just over 40 miles from Early to Moville, in Woodbury County. Phillips says there are environmental concerns that need reviewed with that section of highway before it’s expanded to four lanes.

Another consideration is cost – the most recent estimate shows the price tag for widening the Early to Moville portion of Highway 20 to four lanes is 518-million dollars.