National Transportation Week began Sunday and runs through Saturday. This celebration of the transportation industry has taken place each May since it became a permanent event in 1962. An annual observance taking note of this vital industry's importance to the nation dates back to the 1950s.
That makes this an appropriate time to remind readers of the importance of a first-class transportation system to the economic future of Fort Dodge and all of Messengerland. Roads, rail service, air travel and trucking are all part of the story.
Progress in turning U.S. Highway 20 into a statewide, four-lane thoroughfare has been a local priority for decades. Federal and state monies made available, in part, to stimulate the economy are making possible substantial progress on Highway 20 and other road projects. That's good news for the economy of all of northern Iowa and is a sensible investment in long-term prosperity.
Railroads don't come to mind as frequently as they did in the era when passenger traffic was a major part of their business. Even so, they remain vital to both the Iowa economy and that of the nation. The existence of an exceptional rail network for servicing the ethanol and other agriculture-related industries has been a critical factor in the decision of major companies to locate in Webster County. The local rail infrastructure featuring two major railroads - Canadian National and Union Pacific - is a key factor in marketing this region to potential corporate investors.
The Fort Dodge Regional Airport is an asset that also helps keep major businesses in this region and makes it more attractive as a relocation venue. There aren't many communities the size of Fort Dodge that can boast of regularly scheduled passenger air service. That's a persuasive talking point that figures prominently in efforts to keep investment flowing into the region.
Fort Dodge is the base for a major trucking company - Decker Truck Line Inc. - and a number of smaller trucking enterprises. It would hardly be an overstatement to call it the trucking capital of Iowa. These vibrant businesses help keep the region prosperous.
Bus service is also a feature of a highly evolved local transportation network. DART operates a connection to Jefferson Lines at the Flying J Travel Plaza on Interstate 35 in Hamilton County. That makes it possible for local travelers to connect through Jefferson Lines to the extensive Greyhound and Burlington Trailways systems.
As Fort Dodge builds for an exciting economic tomorrow, National Transportation Week is a good time to recognize and pay tribute to this key industry's role in shaping our region's future.