CLINTON — Local commerce supporters have felt that widening U.S. 30 to four lanes between Cedar Rapids and DeWitt is a long overdue project for the Iowa Department of Transportation.
During this week's DOT Commission meeting in Davenport, multiple coalitions turned out to urge state officials to consider what many have been waiting for.
"Industry and transportation go hand-in-hand," Clinton Mayor Mark Vulich said. "We're four-laned to DeWitt. We need to have the lanes that will connect us to Cedar Rapids."
While representatives from around the state lobbied for their local projects, five separate groups and dozens of individuals pitched U.S. 30 — one of the nation's first coast-to-coast roadways. The delegation was a collection of local business leaders, private citizens and city and county officials who neighbor the highway from Morrison, Illinois, to Cedar County in Iowa.
Within their audience was Dave Rose, DOT chairman and Clinton native, who sat next to DOT Director Paul Trombino. The group delivered a number of presentations and reasons as to why widening U.S. 30 from two to four lanes will not only benefit surrounding communities, but it would also facilitate safe transportation throughout the state. Among reasons to support expansion is that the corridor would alleviate congestion on Interstate 80, located 15 miles south.
"If we can get this done, we will continue to recruit businesses, we will continue to recruit jobs," Clinton Regional Development Corporation board chairman John Eisenman said. "We're here to ask for the funding and scheduling of an environmental study... Prioritizing is always complicated, but we want you to know that a continuous four-lane highway is our top priority."
Nate Von Behren, commercial manager for Archer Daniels Midland, said his company has two plants that benefit from traffic off the highway: one in Clinton and the other in Cedar Rapids.
"While we are a growing global operation, the Midwest remains critical to us," Von Behren said. "In both (Cedar Rapids and Clinton), Highway 30 represents a critical lifeline... These communities are important to ADM."
And from the Illinois side, U.S. 30 Coalition member Barb Suehl addressed how two states can work together to derive progress.
"We want everyone on the Illinois side to realize the importance of this stretch of road," Suehl said. "We have to think regionally if we're ever going to make progress."
Many of the addresses ended with the same request. Highway expansion supporters are hoping the DOT will take the first step and commission a study that will show the need for widening the roadway.
Last year, funding for the study was removed. Rose said he is hoping to get it back, and Trombino agreed that the roadway is important to numerous communities throughout Iowa.
"I think the department and the commission have always recognized the importance of 30," Trombino said, following the presentations. "I think that you'll see additional funds programmed because we recognize it and feel it's important from a system perspective."
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