Drivers Ask Iowa DOT to Make Major Changes at Highway 20 Truck Stop

By Katie Wiedemann, Reporter

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By Katie Wiedemann

DUBUQUE, Iowa - Drivers in Dubuque are crying foul about what they say is the state's lack of attention to a dangerous curve on Highway 20.

The Iowa Department of Transportation says it is taking steps to make that area safer but doesn't have the money to make major upgrades.

The Highway 20 Auto Truck Plaza sits along Highway 20 between North Cascade Road and Swiss Valley Road.

"Since 1998, nothing has been done. There have been various people injured in accidents there and there needs to be something done." It was 1998 when Paula Martens' uncle was pulling out of that truck stop and was killed after his car collided with a semi.

Martens is one of almost 300 people who've signed a petition asking the D.O.T to make immediate changes to the highway.

Many truck drivers say it's a nightmare to pull out of the truck stop, directly on to Highway 20. "By the time a driver gets cranked up, if a car comes 60 miles per hour. Boom! He's done. You can't move fast with a big load," said driver Larry Simon.

The Department of Transportation installed yellow caution signs here. They reduced the speed limit from 65 to 55 miles per hour.

The D.O.T. said the only real fix would be to create an on-ramp that would allow trucks to merge with traffic. However, right now, they don't have the money to construct it.

Senator Tod Bowman (D) is the chair of the State Senate Transportation Committee. He says he's looking into several different ways Iowa can better fund needed road and bridge repairs.

"Sales tax. They say it's not a user fee. Well, it is. Think about all the goods and services you consume. They have to get to you via a transportation mode," Senator Bowman said.

Still drivers here say they can't wait that long. "There will be 10 more people killed before that gets done, " said Simon.

Martens said, "There have been many people impacted by this (dangerous intersection). And I feel so bad because it is devastating even if there's just a serious injury. "

The D.O.T. says they will be looking for funding this fiscal year to pay for the proposed interchange.

Along Highway 20 in Peosta, Kwik Stop owners said they're in the process of building a new truck stop there. That location has off ramps. That truck stop is expected to open by the end of 2014.

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