- Associated Press - Monday, June 23, 2014

Sioux City Journal. June 22, 2014.

It’s time for state to commit to Highway 20 completion

We join proponents across our region in expressing disappointment and frustration at the fact no new money was included for four-laning of Highway 20 in the Iowa Department of Transportation’s new five-year plan.

Last year’s 2014-2018 five-year plan contained money for the completion by 2018 of four-lane work between Moville and Correctionville. That money remains in the new 2015-2019 five-year plan.

However, the new five-year plan adopted by the Iowa Transportation Commission earlier this month contains no new money for additional four-lane work on Highway 20 between Correctionville and Early. Once the Moville-to-Correctionville section is done, the 29 miles between Correctionville and Early will remain the last two-lane stretch of Highway 20 in Iowa.

“Everybody is totally upset that we aren’t moving any farther,” U.S. 20 Corridor Association President Shirley Phillips told the Journal’s Bret Hayworth for a June 11 story.

This isn’t the time for taking a break from work on Highway 20. To the contrary, with only 29 miles of work awaiting funding for a project whose roots stretch back more than 50 years, this is the time for an expedited, final push to completion.

To those ends, we encourage all project backers, including local and area state legislators, to redouble their already-commendable efforts in support of Highway 20 before transportation commissioners adopt a new five-year plan next year.

Keeping its profile high will boost prospects for a seamless continuation of work.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, we also advocate again today for more state road-and-bridge work money in general. We have to believe an increase in state revenue for roads and bridges would mean more funding and a faster finish for Highway 20.

The Legislature again this year failed to do anything about the crucial need for more transportation infrastructure funding. According to the Department of Transportation, the annual deficit for road and bridge needs in Iowa is almost $1.5 billion; for critical needs, more than $200 million.

As we have said before, we support an increase in the gas tax, but we remain open-minded to alternatives. What we do not wish to see and what shouldn’t be acceptable to Iowans is a prolonged status quo.

It’s time for commitments from Iowa, both to completion of Highway 20 and to meeting the state’s fundamental responsibility for providing a safe, modern overall system of roads and bridges.

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Fort Dodge Messenger. June 22, 2014.

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