Length in Iowa: 301 miles/484 kilometers
Western terminus: Nebraska state line (Missouri River)
at Sioux City, with I-129 and US 75
Eastern terminus: Illinois state line
(Mississippi River) at Dubuque
Counties: Woodbury, Ida, Sac, Calhoun, Webster, Hamilton, Hardin,
Grundy, Black Hawk, Buchanan, Delaware, Dubuque
Cities along route: Sioux City, Lawton, Moville, Correctionville,
Cushing, Holstein, Early, Knierim, Moorland, Fort Dodge (via Business US 20), Webster City, Blairsburg, Owasa, Dike, Hudson,
Cedar Falls, Waterloo, Evansdale, Elk Run Heights, Raymond, Jesup,
Independence, Manchester, Delaware, Earlville, Dyersville, Farley, Epworth,
NHS: Entire route
4½ miles, from Nebraska state line to Business US 20, east and
south of Sioux City
132 miles, from IA 17 near Webster City to IA 38 at Delaware
18 miles, from the end of the freeway outside of Sioux City to east of Moville (a less-than-one mile segment through Lawton is currently two lanes with a wide painted median; it was four lanes undivided in the past)
2½ miles, south of Holstein (including the entire multiplex with US 59)
66 miles, from US 71 near Early to IA 17 near Webster City; includes interchanges at US 71, IA 196/County Road N14, IA 4, Business US 20/County Road D36 (signed as D20), US 169, and Business US 20/County Road P59 southeast of Fort Dodge.
38 miles, from IA 38 in Delaware to Locust Street in Dubuque; includes
interchanges at Earlville, Dyersville, Farley, Epworth, and Peosta.
Sioux City bypass
Segment from US 71 to I-35
Segment from I-35 to I-380
Segment from I-380 to US 61
4½ miles with US 75, from the Nebraska state line to
the Gordon Drive interchange east of Sioux City; this includes a quarter-mile with
I-129 from the state line to I-29.
1½ miles with US 59 east of Holstein
4½ miles with IA 17 west of Webster City
1 mile with IA 58 on the south edge of Cedar Falls
13 miles with IA 27, between IA 58 in Cedar Falls and the
split with I-380 east of Raymond; this includes a 6-mile triplex with I-380 east of Waterloo.
Designated: October 16, 1926, replacing IA 34 across the Combination Bridge in Sioux City, IA 23 (I) (the Hawkeye Cutoff) between Sioux City and Fort Dodge, and IA 5 (I) (the Hawkeye Highway) from Fort Dodge to Dubuque into Illinois.
Paving history: At the time of designation, the segments through Woodbury County and from the Grundy/Black Hawk county line west of Cedar Falls to Winthrop (excluding a short segment west of Winthrop at a railroad crossing) were paved.
1927: Paved from Dyersville to Epworth
1928: Paved from Winthrop to Dyersville, and from Epworth to Dubuque
1929: Paved from Fort Dodge to Webster City and through Grundy County, while the gap west of Winthrop was paved.
1930: Paved from the Calhoun/Webster county line to Fort Dodge (on a new diagonal alignment in western Webster County), from Webster City to Williams, and from Iowa Falls to the Butler/Grundy county line (on a new alignment)
1932: Paved from Cushing to Holstein and from Williams to Alden (on a new alignment)
1933: Paved from Alden to Iowa Falls
1934: Paved from Early to Sac City and Rockwell City to Calhoun/Webster county line
1935: Paved from Holstein to a point southeast of Schaller (on a new alignment that was approved June 25, creating IA 328 to serve Galva and extending IA 110 along a former piece of US 20 south of Schaller)
1937: Paved from Sac City to Lytton
1938: Last unpaved segments, from a point southeast of Schaller to Early (on a new alignment) and from Lytton to Rockwell City (on a new diagonal alignment east of Lytton), paved
Major alignment changes:
August 31, 1943: Julien Dubuque Bridge opens between Dubuque and East Dubuque, IL. (The Highway Commission moved US 20 from Locust Street to Dodge Street on January 24, 1940, in anticipation of the bridge.)
November 24, 1954: Straightened between Sioux City and Moville; the old segment of US 20 west of there followed Correctionville Road and 180th Street.
September 19, 1958: Realigned between Waterloo and Jesup along a new road east of Waterloo, now known as Dubuque Road. An extension of IA 281 replaced part of the old segment that followed Independence Avenue in Waterloo.
October 19, 1958: Straightened between Moville and a point east of Cushing, creating IA 403 (I) as a spur into Cushing. The old segment is now County Road D22.
August 31, 1959: Realigned between IA 136 near Dyersville and Dubuque; it previously followed what is now Old Highway Road in Dubuque County. The old segment was redesignated as IA 416 on October 21.
December 13, 1964: Realigned between IA 38 near Delaware and IA 136; the old segment, which had been unsigned IA 947 between 1964 and 1980, is now County Road D22.
For alignment changes in Sioux City that are not listed here, see Jeff Morrison's Sioux City Highway Chronology page.
For alignment changes in Fort Dodge that are not listed here, see Jeff Morrison's Fort Dodge Highway Chronology page.
For alignment changes in Waterloo and Cedar Falls that are not listed here, see Jeff Morrison's Waterloo/Cedar Falls Highway Chronology page.
October 19, 1958: Expressway segment east of Moville opened
August 31, 1959: 3-mile expressway segment southwest of IA 416 (now Old Highway Road) west of Dubuque opened, adding to an existing four-lane segment between there and Grandview Avenue in Dubuque.
August 25, 1964: 2½-mile expressway segment near Holstein opened
November 16, 1964: Expressway segment between Sioux City and Moville opened. The 2½-mile expressway segment near Holstein, which will eventually connect with the other expressway segments, also opened in 1964.
December 1968: First piece of freeway, 3 miles between US 69 near Blairsburg
and I-35, completed. The 1969 state highway map and some commercially-produced
maps in the early 1970s marked this as IA 520 — the working number for the whole proposed cross-state freeway during this era was "Freeway 520" — but I am not sure if the road was signed as such.
November 15, 1974: 16-mile freeway segment from IA 187 in eastern Buchanan County to IA 38 at Delaware opened. (The 9-mile segment from IA 187 to IA 13 near Manchester was completed in 1971 as IA 520, but US 20 traffic was not rerouted until this time.)
June 28, 1976: 9-mile freeway segments from IA 17 at Webster City to US 69 completed. The old segment in Hamilton County became unsigned IA 928.
November 22, 1976: Freeway segment from the Nebraska state line to I-29 opened (it was signed exclusively as I-129 at first)
December 10, 1976: Freeway segment from I-29 to Lakeport Street opened; this piece was initially designated as IA 520, as US 20 traffic was not rerouted right away.
June 29, 1979: Remainder of the freeway in the Sioux City area finished; old segment became an extended IA 12 (until 2000) and Business US 20.
July 20, 1979: 12-mile freeway segment from IA 150 at Independence to IA 187 opened
October 20, 1979: 4½-mile freeway segment between the west junction of IA 17 and Webster City opened; this created the multiplex with IA 17.
August 26, 1983: 16-mile freeway segment between IA 297 near Raymond and IA 150 at
Independence opened; the old segment became IA 939. (Before that, a short two-lane segment between the former IA 248 and IA 150 was built in 1981 as a bypass of Independence for truck traffic. Traffic then used the former IA 248 to reach US 20.)
August 9, 1984: 7-mile freeway segment between IA 21 in Waterloo and IA 297 opened
December 7, 1984: 3-mile freeway segment between US 63 and IA 21 in Waterloo opened. (Neither of the two previous segments were signed as US 20 at first, but were designated by the state as IA 520.)
June 14, 1986: 7-mile freeway segment from the Black Hawk/Grundy county line
to US 63 opened; US 20 then replaced IA 57 between the county line and IA 14, sharing 9 miles with IA 14 into Parkersburg, with IA 57 replacing the old US 20 between Parkersburg and Cedar Falls.
July 2, 1987: 11-mile expressway segment from Webster County Road P59
to IA 17 completed
November 29, 1987: 11-mile expressway segment from IA 38 to the Delaware/Dubuque county line west of Dyersville opened
May 24, 1988: 1-mile expressway segment through Dyersville (including the interchange with IA 136) opened
June 7, 1988: 6-mile expressway segment through Peosta to the previous end of the four-lane west of Dubuque opened
November 17, 1988: 4-mile expressway segment through Epworth (including the interchange) opened
November 22, 1988: 8-mile expressway segment, from Dyersville to the end of the Epworth segment (including the interchange at Farley) opened, completing the four-lane link between Waterloo and Dubuque
December 7, 1990: 3-mile expressway segment between US 169 south of Fort Dodge and County Road P59 completed; most of the old route became Business US 20. A new 5-mile segment from Moorland to US 169 opened to two lanes at the same time.
October 7, 1991: 15-mile freeway segment between I-35 and US 65 in Hardin County opened; 13 of those 15 miles were originally two lanes. From the east end of the freeway US 20 multiplexed with US 65 for five miles south of Iowa Falls, adding to the additional six-mile multiplex north and east of there. The old segment became unsigned IA 941.
November 7, 1996: Improvements to Dodge Street in Dubuque, which include interchanges
at Grandview Avenue and Bryant Street, finished.
July 14, 2000: Former two-lane freeway between County Road R77 and US 65 widened to four lanesNovember 15, 2000: 12-mile freeway segment between IA 14 and the Grundy/Black Hawk county line opened; the old segment was unsigned IA 263 (II) until it was turned over in early 2003.
August 22, 2003: 27-mile freeway segment between US 65 and IA 14 opened, completing the four-lane link between Fort Dodge and Dubuque and dropping the multiplexes with the abovementioned highways. The old segment became an extension of IA 57.
July 18, 2005: 5-mile expressway segment from a point east of Moorland to US 169 opened
December 15, 2010: 21-mile expressway segment from IA 4 in Calhoun County to the end of the existing segment near Moorland opened. The old segment from Rockwell City to Moorland is now County Road D36, while US 20 was temporarily multiplexed with IA 4 for 3½ miles south of this interchange.
November 19, 2012: 26-mile expressway segment between US 71 near Early and IA 4 opened; the old US 20 segment through Sac City and Lytton became an extension of County Road D36.
The freeway segment between US 65 and IA 14 includes a new bridge over the Iowa River that used a "launching" technique to build it without any major effects on the environment. Jeff Morrison has photo galleries devoted to construction from
the fall of 2002 and the opening ceremony of August 22, 2003.
With the completion of the last freeway link between Fort Dodge and Dubuque, attention now turns to upgrading US 20 in northwest Iowa to four lanes. According to the current state transportation plan, a border-to-border US 20 expressway will become reality by the end of 2018 — more than 50 years after it was first proposed:
The US 20 Corridor Association is pushing for the completion of a four-lane US 20 across Iowa.
The TEA-21 transportation bill that passed through Congress in 1998 set aside $28 million for upgrading the Julien Dubuque Bridge across the Mississippi from two to four lanes via a new two-lane span that would parallel the existing bridge, and the SAFETEA-LU bill of 2005 set aside an additional $20 million. As Illinois plans to upgrade its two-lane US 20 segment (from north of Galena to Freeport), this could create a continuous four-lane route from Sioux City to Chicago along US 20 and I-90; however, there is no scheduled completion date.
The book Road Trip USA by Jamie Jensen (Moon Travel, 1999) includes a
travelogue of US 20's entire route between Portland, OR, and Boston. The section across Iowa can be found here.
- Paving for the 11.5 miles from the east end of the expressway near Moville to Correctionville is programmed for 2016 and 2018. The 0.7-mile segment in Correctionville, which will be five lanes (two in each direction plus a center-turn lane), is programmed for paving in 2016.
- Paving of the segment from Correctionville to the west junction of US 59, and the segment from the east junction of US 59 to Adams Avenue in Ida County, are both scheduled for 2016.
- Paving of the remaining two-lane segment from Adams Avenue to US 71 is scheduled for 2017.
Business US 20
Sioux City: Designated along 7 miles of US 20's old alignment after the freeway bypass opened in 1979 (it began appearing on maps in 1981). It is one of the few business routes to straddle two states, even though signage is sparse in Nebraska. The route follows Dakota Avenue from I-129 northward through South Sioux City, NE. Then it joins US 77 across the Missouri into Iowa, I-29 for a short distance, and Gordon Drive eastward from downtown Sioux City to US 20. The segment from the I-29 split to US 20/75, which was (and is still officially part of) IA 12, is part of the National Highway System. (Terminus photos)
Fort Dodge: Designated in 1990 along 13 miles of US 20's old
alignment after the expressway bypass opened, and approved by AASHTO on April 21, 1996. The route enters via County Road D20, follows Kenyon Road and 5th Avenue South in Fort Dodge before turning southward along County Road P59 east of town to connect with US
20. Most of the route, except for the two-mile duplex with Business
US 169 (which is actually IA 926), has been turned over to city and county jurisdiction. After the opening of the expressway segment west of Moorland in December 2010, the west end was moved to the interchange with US 20 and County Road D36 northeast of Moorland. (Terminus