U.S. Highway 20

Nearly 50-year project is down to the last 40 miles

-Messenger photo by Joe Sutter Orange cones and lane closing signs are all lined up and ready to go for the work that will begin Monday on U.S. Highway 20. The westbound lanes will be closed east of Fort Dodge, with two-way traffic in the eastbound lanes while repaving is completed over the summer.

The effects of U.S. Highway 20 nearing completion as a four-lane expressway across Iowa can be seen all across the state.

One small way to gauge the importance of the road is very simple — looking at the traffic counter located at the intersection with Iowa Highway 4 near Rockwell City.

“We were at almost 7,000 vehicles a day last April,” said Shirley Phillips, president of the U.S. 20 Corridor Association. “They told us when they opened the road they were looking for a traffic count of 2,500 vehicles a day. We’ve almost tripled that already and we’re not even open across the state.

“That’s pretty impressive. … Just think what it will be like when they open the whole corridor.”

And the rest of the road isn’t being neglected. In Webster County, a repaving project has now entered its second year.

Elsewhere in Webster County, the Iowa Department of Transportation has changed the traffic pattern in an effort to make an intersection near Harcourt safer.

U.S. Highway 20

Westbound lanes of U.S. Highway 20 have been closed since mid-April between Business Highway 20, which is the Coalville and Fort Dodge exit, and Webster County Road P73, commonly referred to as the Duncombe blacktop.

This is a continuation of the repaving project which closed eastbound lanes of U.S. Highway 20 last year.

The roughly $13 million project should be completed at the end of June — hopefully before the Fourth of July weekend, said Jenny Hoskins, resident construction engineer with the Iowa Department of Transportation’s Jefferson office.

The original pavement on this stretch was of 1980s vintage, but it had some issues and so it is being replaced, Hoskins said.

Continuing to the east, another repaving project will be let this fall, and completed in 2018. This will replace the pavement from P73 to Iowa Highway 17 in Hamilton County.

Meanwhile, the project to make U.S. Highway 20 four lanes from the Mississippi River to the Missouri River, which began almost 50 years ago, is in its final stretch now.

The last roughly 40 miles is from Early in Sac County to the west to just short of Moville in Woodbury County.

“The final 40, every mile is under construction,” Phillips said.

“It’s a fascinating drive from Early to Moville right now, because you see something happening just about everywhere,” added Ann Trimble-Ray, U.S. 20 Corridor Association board member.

Currently, there’s a detour in place, taking travelers about six miles out of the normal route, starting in Early and continuing west to south of Galva.

The DOT says completion of that stretch is expected in 2018.

The overall project should be done by Nov. 1, 2018, Phillips said.

Road closings and other updates are posted by the DOT at iowadot.gov/us20. Updates and photos can also be found at the U.S. 20 Corridor Association’s Facebook page, facebook.com/US20Association.


Near Harcourt, a four-way stop has been installed at the intersection of Iowa Highway 175 and U.S. Highway 169.

The DOT said this change was prompted by the number of crashes at that intersection. There have been 17 accidents reported there in the past 10 years.