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Author Topic: Why was US 20 before the Iowa Freeway completed allowed to deviate far?  (Read 959 times)

roadman65

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I remember a few years back on Rand McNally where it showed the US 20 freeway in the eastern half of the state in two segments.  In addition the route was aligned far to the north in between the two ends instead of following a road close to it.  S

I assume that the freeway was built miles away from its old alignment and the state decided to just decided to build elsewhere.  However, why was motorists given that crazy jog north, then east, to only jog south again.  Pennsylvania would just wait till the whole freeway was completed before allowing any part of it to be signed as the new alignment unless the new and old were pretty close and accessible between the two without causing extra traveling.

Why did Iowa do this like this?  I often thought that alignment was way too much at the time.
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Re: Why was US 20 before the Iowa Freeway completed allowed to deviate far?
« Reply #1 on: January 12, 2018, 03:02:22 AM »

The original US 20 closely followed the Illinois Central rail line across Iowa, which followed current IA 57 between Cedar Falls and US 65 before returning to an alignment north of and parallel to the present freeway passing through Webster City and Duncombe before entering central Fort Dodge.  What is now IA 7 was originally US 20; the rail line circumnavigated the rise in elevation directly west of Rockwell City; tracing the IC rail line, it followed IA 7 to IA 3, multiplexed with that route west to Le Mars, then followed US 75 SW into Sioux City.  IIRC, US 20 was (in a relative sense) "straightlined" in the late 1930's through Rockwell City and Sac City in a "connect-the-dots" fashion.  This type of route selection was commonplace in the Midwest prior to the advent of the Interstate system -- the main highways were an expansion of railside "service roads", and then "customized" to connect as many larger towns as possible while maintaining a reasonably consistent trajectory. 

Some Iowa road anomalies were the result of the layout of the state's rail network; the diagonal IA 330 was such a route, following the old Chicago Great Western St. Joseph line, which extended SW from Oelwein (where the railroad had its main yard, shops, and operating center) through Waterloo, Marshalltown, Des Moines, and Creston before exiting the state southwest of Bedford along MSR 148, ending up at St. Joseph, MO. 
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triplemultiplex

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Re: Why was US 20 before the Iowa Freeway completed allowed to deviate far?
« Reply #2 on: January 12, 2018, 09:23:17 AM »

Why did Iowa do this like this?

Probably because they couldn't afford to build it all as one, long continuous chunk that could be opened all at once.  The best solution was to complete the freeway in segments, thus spreading out the cost.
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Avalanchez71

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Re: Why was US 20 before the Iowa Freeway completed allowed to deviate far?
« Reply #3 on: January 12, 2018, 09:24:51 AM »

Why was US 20 routed south of US 30 further west?
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Re: Why was US 20 before the Iowa Freeway completed allowed to deviate far?
« Reply #4 on: January 12, 2018, 09:27:12 AM »

Why was US 20 routed south of US 30 further west?

That is a completely unrelated question. The only thing your question has in common with the thread title is that it involves US 20 (but US 20 in Oregon has no relation to US 20 in Iowa, so it's not much in common anyway).
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roadman65

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Re: Why was US 20 before the Iowa Freeway completed allowed to deviate far?
« Reply #5 on: January 12, 2018, 11:56:16 AM »

Why did Iowa do this like this?

Probably because they couldn't afford to build it all as one, long continuous chunk that could be opened all at once.  The best solution was to complete the freeway in segments, thus spreading out the cost.
No I get that part, but why was it allowed to be called US 20.  I have seen plenty of designations built in stages, but waited till the whole thing was completed before applying the end result.

If old US 20, lets say, did follow closely to the proposed freeway, then it could be applied to the segments, but being that you have the old and the new several miles apart where the US route doglegs miles in a perpendicular direction, then heads back to its original east or west following, to only go back those several miles, is adding needless miles to it.

I am guessing that once the last segment was opened to traffic over 20 miles of distance was eliminated at least.  Unless the time justified it, but being its all rural I doubt that the other old alignments on either end were that time consuming.
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Re: Why was US 20 before the Iowa Freeway completed allowed to deviate far?
« Reply #6 on: January 12, 2018, 11:57:18 AM »

The original US 20 closely followed the Illinois Central rail line across Iowa, which followed current IA 57 between Cedar Falls and US 65 before returning to an alignment north of and parallel to the present freeway passing through Webster City and Duncombe before entering central Fort Dodge.  What is now IA 7 was originally US 20; the rail line circumnavigated the rise in elevation directly west of Rockwell City; tracing the IC rail line, it followed IA 7 to IA 3, multiplexed with that route west to Le Mars, then followed US 75 SW into Sioux City.  IIRC, US 20 was (in a relative sense) "straightlined" in the late 1930's through Rockwell City and Sac City in a "connect-the-dots" fashion.  This type of route selection was commonplace in the Midwest prior to the advent of the Interstate system -- the main highways were an expansion of railside "service roads", and then "customized" to connect as many larger towns as possible while maintaining a reasonably consistent trajectory. 

Some Iowa road anomalies were the result of the layout of the state's rail network; the diagonal IA 330 was such a route, following the old Chicago Great Western St. Joseph line, which extended SW from Oelwein (where the railroad had its main yard, shops, and operating center) through Waterloo, Marshalltown, Des Moines, and Creston before exiting the state southwest of Bedford along MSR 148, ending up at St. Joseph, MO. 

I don't think was US 20 ever routed through Pocahontas, Buena Vista, Cherokee or Plymouth Counties... all US 20/75 multiplexes that ever existed in Iowa have been only in Woodbury County, mainly in Sioux City proper.  US 20 appears to have roughly followed the Chicago & Northwestern RR between Rockwell City and Correctionville.  Today's IA 7 and today's IA 3 were part of IA 5 originally.  US 20 was its own thing (known as IA 23 between Ft. Dodge and Sioux City prior to the implementation of the US Highway system in 1926).

https://iowadot.gov/maps/msp/historical/pdf/1927-front.pdf
https://iowadot.gov/maps/msp/historical/pdf/1926-front.pdf
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Re: Why was US 20 before the Iowa Freeway completed allowed to deviate far?
« Reply #7 on: January 12, 2018, 12:48:46 PM »

No I get that part, but why was it allowed to be called US 20.  I have seen plenty of designations built in stages, but waited till the whole thing was completed before applying the end result.

If old US 20, lets say, did follow closely to the proposed freeway, then it could be applied to the segments, but being that you have the old and the new several miles apart where the US route doglegs miles in a perpendicular direction, then heads back to its original east or west following, to only go back those several miles, is adding needless miles to it.

I am guessing that once the last segment was opened to traffic over 20 miles of distance was eliminated at least.  Unless the time justified it, but being its all rural I doubt that the other old alignments on either end were that time consuming.

Some of those gaps and subsequent doglegs of US 20 existed for many years as construction of the freeway was not a continuous process.

If I flip the question around, why wait until the entire gap is filled to sign it as US 20?  Seems like that introduces more temporary signing and potential motorist confusion.  The temporary ends of the freeway were a much less ambiguous indication of where one needed to go.  It would be easy to miss the exit for US 20 exiting off itself and one keeps going until the freeway ends.  Now you're in a situation where you would need some amount of signage directing folks back to US 20 anyway.  So might as well put US 20 on the completed freeway in the first place instead of having some temporary state highway.

As a bonus, some of the signage of US 20 on the n-s doglegs can be re-purposed as "TO US 20" signs once it gets moved to the next open segment of freeway.
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sparker

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Re: Why was US 20 before the Iowa Freeway completed allowed to deviate far?
« Reply #8 on: January 12, 2018, 05:33:26 PM »

The original US 20 closely followed the Illinois Central rail line across Iowa, which followed current IA 57 between Cedar Falls and US 65 before returning to an alignment north of and parallel to the present freeway passing through Webster City and Duncombe before entering central Fort Dodge.  What is now IA 7 was originally US 20; the rail line circumnavigated the rise in elevation directly west of Rockwell City; tracing the IC rail line, it followed IA 7 to IA 3, multiplexed with that route west to Le Mars, then followed US 75 SW into Sioux City.  IIRC, US 20 was (in a relative sense) "straightlined" in the late 1930's through Rockwell City and Sac City in a "connect-the-dots" fashion.  This type of route selection was commonplace in the Midwest prior to the advent of the Interstate system -- the main highways were an expansion of railside "service roads", and then "customized" to connect as many larger towns as possible while maintaining a reasonably consistent trajectory. 

Some Iowa road anomalies were the result of the layout of the state's rail network; the diagonal IA 330 was such a route, following the old Chicago Great Western St. Joseph line, which extended SW from Oelwein (where the railroad had its main yard, shops, and operating center) through Waterloo, Marshalltown, Des Moines, and Creston before exiting the state southwest of Bedford along MSR 148, ending up at St. Joseph, MO. 

I don't think was US 20 ever routed through Pocahontas, Buena Vista, Cherokee or Plymouth Counties... all US 20/75 multiplexes that ever existed in Iowa have been only in Woodbury County, mainly in Sioux City proper.  US 20 appears to have roughly followed the Chicago & Northwestern RR between Rockwell City and Correctionville.  Today's IA 7 and today's IA 3 were part of IA 5 originally.  US 20 was its own thing (known as IA 23 between Ft. Dodge and Sioux City prior to the implementation of the US Highway system in 1926).

https://iowadot.gov/maps/msp/historical/pdf/1927-front.pdf
https://iowadot.gov/maps/msp/historical/pdf/1926-front.pdf

Oops -- I had been given the info that US 20 originally replaced all of IA 5 when it was commissioned and that the southward shift took place about 6-8 years later.  But I'll certainly defer to your 1927 map that shows otherwise.  Thanks for supplying the correct information.  But even with the 1926-27 overlay of US routes over former IA state highways, the maps (glad they displayed RR lines as well!) do show the relationship between RR lines and the main state corridors, particularly the E-W ones; the whole of IA 5, prior to that time, followed the IC main line across the state while IA 6, later US 30, followed the most direct C&NW Chicago-Omaha corridor, and IA 8/US 34 followed the CB & Q line through Burlington and Ottumwa across the state' southern tier.   
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DandyDan

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Re: Why was US 20 before the Iowa Freeway completed allowed to deviate far?
« Reply #9 on: January 13, 2018, 07:07:30 PM »

I remember a few years back on Rand McNally where it showed the US 20 freeway in the eastern half of the state in two segments.  In addition the route was aligned far to the north in between the two ends instead of following a road close to it.  S

I assume that the freeway was built miles away from its old alignment and the state decided to just decided to build elsewhere.  However, why was motorists given that crazy jog north, then east, to only jog south again.  Pennsylvania would just wait till the whole freeway was completed before allowing any part of it to be signed as the new alignment unless the new and old were pretty close and accessible between the two without causing extra traveling.

Why did Iowa do this like this?  I often thought that alignment was way too much at the time.
I assume what you're saying has to do with how US 20 went north with US 65 through Iowa Falls, east on current IA 57 to Parkersburg, then south on IA 14 to the current freeway. My guess is that that didn't get built when the rest of the freeway did because of environmental issues associated with the Iowa River. One day I might travel the freeway  there to find out.
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Re: Why was US 20 before the Iowa Freeway completed allowed to deviate far?
« Reply #10 on: January 15, 2018, 09:45:49 AM »

My guess is that that didn't get built when the rest of the freeway did because of environmental issues associated with the Iowa River. One day I might travel the freeway  there to find out.

Topography, of all things.  It's a pretty bitchin' view by central Iowa standards.  They crossed the entire valley with a bridge about a a third of a mile long.  Even more special because you've just been traveling for hours through endless farm fields and suddenly, there it is.
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Re: Why was US 20 before the Iowa Freeway completed allowed to deviate far?
« Reply #11 on: January 15, 2018, 09:13:52 PM »

I assume what you're saying has to do with how US 20 went north with US 65 through Iowa Falls, east on current IA 57 to Parkersburg, then south on IA 14 to the current freeway. My guess is that that didn't get built when the rest of the freeway did because of environmental issues associated with the Iowa River. One day I might travel the freeway  there to find out.

That is pretty much what happened. Funding and environmental issues related to the Iowa River Greenbelt delayed construction of that part of US 20 for at least three decades. Only when the Iowa DOT decided to use a "launching" method intended to reduce environmental disruption did the bridge get built. Details here.

They did give the segment from US 63 to US 218 an interim designation of "IA 520" from its completion in 1984 until the bypass of Waterloo/Cedar Falls was completed in 1986, but I don't know what it was signed as, if anything. (After the bypass was completed, US 20 replaced IA 57 through Dike, while IA 57 replaced the old US 20 west of Cedar Falls.)
« Last Edit: January 15, 2018, 09:18:17 PM by iowahighways »
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