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Daily News Editorial

By Staff | Jun 18, 2008

On Aug. 12, the Iowa Lakes Corridor will ask the Iowa Department of Transportation Commission in Sioux City to consider placing more emphasis on improvements to U.S. 20 south of Storm Lake and Iowa highways 86 and 9.

All three proposals have merits. The proposed four-lane plan for Highway 20 across Iowa has been in the works for more than 50 years. To say that completing the last stretch from west of Fort Dodge to Moville would help commerce in the state’s midsection would be a gross understatement. Indeed, Interstate 80, the nation’s busiest, is more southern than centrally located. It’s also the only four-lane highway to span the entire state from east to west. One simply is not enough.

Highway 86 is also in great need of work, particularly considering that it is the only through-route of any sort in the Lakes area. Not everyone coming from Minnesota wants to spend half an afternoon going through traffic, particularly in the summer. Highway 86 is a highly meritorious project.

And then there’s Highway 9. (Pardon me, but did I just hear an audible groan?) Highway 9, which spans the entire state, is deplorable. It is not only inconvenient. It is incredibly unsafe. Highway 9 has seen increased traffic lately due to oversize truck traffic which, avoiding restrictions on Interstate 90, has instead dropped down to Highway 9. Some of the trucks carry huge cylindrical towers for ethanol plants. Some days it looks like they’re relocating Cape Canaveral down Central Avenue.

And it’s only going to get worse. With the new Green Plains ethanol plant in Superior, Highway 9 is going to have load after load of grain trucks going over it. Highway 9, now crumbling and decrepit at best, is going to be a shattered mess. Even now, truckers have damaged loads and motorcyclists face a high risk of an accident if they’re not extremely careful when traveling Highway 9.

If the state of Iowa wants alternative energy development, then it had better use the intelligence and foresight to consider the impact on state roads. Trucks haul corn to ethanol plants, not trains. To promote ethanol and biodiesel development and ignore the highways over which semis must travel to ethanol plants is just not good sense. Let’s not wait for an accident.

If you feel as strongly as many people do that Highway 9 is in dire need of improvement, both for commerce as well as for public safety, contact any Emmet County supervisor or the Emmet County Auditor’s Office at: Emmet County Auditor, Courthouse, 609 First Ave. N., Estherville, IA 51334. Or FAX 712-362-7454 or E-mail: emmetaudbj@yourstarnet.net

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