SIOUX CITY - A new four-lane section of U.S. Highway 20 in Calhoun and Sac counties may open by the end of this year, about 12 months earlier than expected, members of the U.S. 20 Corridor Association learned Friday.
That piece of highway was scheduled to debut in the fall of 2013. But good weather and a $750,000 incentive offered by the Iowa Department of Transportation have construction crews progressing quickly, according to a state highway official.
''Things are moving along well,'' Tony Lazarowicz, a district engineer for the Department of Transportation, said Friday.
He briefed members of the association on the project during their meeting in the Sioux City Public Museum.
Various contractors are building the four-lane route between Iowa Highway 4 near Rockwell City in Calhoun County and U.S. Highway 71 near Early in Sac County. Perhaps the most visible result of that work is the pair of bridges that carry the new four-lane route over Highway 71 north of Early.
Lazarowicz said those bridges should be finished by the end of next month. He added that another set of bridges over the Raccoon River in Sac County should also be finished next month.
About 14 miles of paving remains to be done between Iowa Highway 4 and U.S. Highway 71, according to Lazarowicz.
Once the paving is done, pavement markings must be put down and signs will have to be placed, he said.
He predicted that the four-lane route in Calhoun and Sac counties will open by the end of the year. Earlier this year, the Department of Transportation authorized a $750,000 bonus for the construction companies if they get the work done by Dec. 21.
The completion of that section will bring the goal of a four-lane U.S. Highway 20 all the way between Dubuque and Sioux City closer to reality. The highway expansion has been progressing intermittently since the 1960s. Including the portion now under construction, 79 miles remain to widened to complete the four-lane highway.
Also during the association's meeting. Charese Yanney, a member of the Iowa Transportation Commission, said she will continue to press for an increase in the state's gasoline tax.
''I can't promise anything, but I'm going to continue to work on that,'' she said.
Yanney said a gasoline tax is a fair way to pay for road work because it is paid by people who use the roads, including those from other states who travel through Iowa.
The state's gasoline tax has been 21 cents per gallon since the late 1980s.
During this year's legislative session, state Rep. David Tjepkes, R-Gowrie, introduced a bill to raise that levy by 4 cents in 2013 and another 4 cents in 2014. That proposal never made it out of committee.