Officials in northwest Iowa say after decades of planning and construction, completing the conversion of Highway 20 to four lanes may be in jeopardy. A 32-mile long stretch of U.S. Highway 20 from east of Moville to Early has yet to be four-laned and funding cuts will make it difficult to complete anytime soon, according to Highway 20 Corridor Association Marketing Director Ann Trimble.

“Everybody, in general, needs to be prepared that there could be projects removed from the (Iowa Department of Transportation’s) five-year plan, due to a lack of funding. That’s a blanket warning everyone is getting from the DOT, but it does illustrate where our next steps need to be as far as our advocacy for the completion of the project,” Trimble said.

She spoke at the annual meeting of the Highway 20 Corridor Association last week in Sioux City. Sioux City Mayor Bob Scott said completing the project should be a top priority. “You know, their big push is to get rail across the northern half (of Iowa) and rail across the southern half, but I said we have to get Highway 20 done before you can expect Sioux City to make a real commitment to rail across our state,” Scott said.

“Not that we would be opposed to that, but we need a commitment to get this road finished.” The push to widen Highway 20 to four lanes across the entire state started in the 1960s. Advocates say it’s desperately needed as an east-west alternative to Interstate 80.

By Josie Cooper, KSCJ, Sioux City