Iowa to cut back on highway bypasses

| Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Truckers traveling through Iowa will see fewer bypass routes around the state’s towns in the future.

Mark Wandro, director of the Iowa Department of Transportation, told The Des Moines Register that the state will stop routinely building bypasses on four-lane highways. That means more future four-lane highways will go directly through the center of many towns.

Wandro said the policy, which is a major departure from the department’s previous stand, will not jeopardize safety. But it will save Iowa millions.

As recently as this month, the department was still approving new bypasses. The Iowa Transportation Commission announced earlier in December that it would relocate and widen U.S. 34 around the town of Fairfield, IA.

The bypass will run from near the town of Bernhart, where U.S. 34 intersects with Filbert Ave., to near the intersection of U.S. 34 and Osage Ave. just east of town, the commission said in its meeting minutes. The expansion is part of a project to expand all of U.S. 34 from Des Moines to Burlington, which sits on the Mississippi River in the southeast part of the state, into a four-lane highway, The Register reported.

That and a number of other bypasses that were already on the books will still be built, despite the policy shift, the newspaper reported.