CLINTON — It’s been two decades and the U.S. 30 Coalition won’t stop pushing the expansion of the route.
“It should have been a four-lane route a long time ago,” said Iowa Transportation Commissioner David Rose, of Clinton.
But now, with the four-lane completion on U.S. 20, Iowa Economic Development Authority Director Debi Durham told the coalition in recent weeks that there may be “some opportunity” to tend to U.S. 30.
In the early morning hours of Feb. 20, members of the local U.S 30 Coalition drove to Des Moines for continued support and conversation of their cause to the key players in moving the construction forward — like the governor and her lieutenant governor. Over the course of the day, it became clear that the four-lane expansion was not a party issue, but a spatial one.
“Currently, a number of rural legislators are in leadership positions,” said Adam Schweers, president of the statewide coalition and Carroll resident. “It is important that those legislators take the lead on promoting legislation to advance U.S. 30’s four-lane efforts since most of the unfinished sections fall in rural areas.”
Major routes similar to Interstate 80 have weight restrictions, which forces hauling trailers to take to U.S. 30. The coalition urges the additional two lanes would relieve traffic and increase safety on I-80. In the municipal segments of U.S. 30, 9,571 vehicles populated the road per day in 2015, and in rural areas, 6,556 vehicles per day.
The state also has to be ready to pay its share, Schweers said. As federal transportation funds are released — and Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act sunsetting in 2020 — Iowa needs to move on unfinished areas of U.S. 30, which mainly sit in rural areas.
“Having projects in the pipeline and a plan to pay our ‘local match’ through ... funding will be critical and we need to capitalize on any chance to capture ‘outside the state funding,’” Schweers added.
Rose has already ensured various segments of U.S. 30 are first in line for funding, byway of “priority status,” he said. Environmental studies have already been verified for goal areas. For Lisbon to DeWitt and Ogden to Carroll, funding isn’t anticipated until 2020.
Durham told the group she was “sold” on the idea of U.S. 30 as a four-lane — especially as a nudge for economic growth.
The coalition, whose mission is to create safer and more efficient avenues tied with economic development, felt their voices were heard.