Just months after the long-awaited Southwest Arterial came to fruition and opened to traffic in Dubuque County, residents will see a second much-discussed road project completed in the months ahead.

This time, the biggest motivating factor for the work is safety. It’s a project that’s long overdue.

The biggest project on the summer construction season list for this area will be finishing the new diamond interchange near Swiss Valley Road west of Dubuque and installing frontage roads along U.S. 20. The Iowa Department of Transportation began work on the multi-faceted project last year. The total cost will exceed $38 million.

It will be worth every dime. This area has for too long been a grave concern and the site of many serious accidents.

The area near Highway 20 Auto Truck Plaza has long been one of the most dangerous spots in Dubuque County. TH news reports citing the problem area go back nearly 20 years. Meanwhile, Peosta and points west continue to grow in population. Semi-tractor trailers entering and exiting the truck stop and the highway’s tight curve compound the problem. Rain, snow, fog or a roaming deer can further exacerbate a dangerous stretch of road.

It was more than 18 years ago that IDOT officials started talking about addressing the dangerous intersection. Those plans kept getting put off while the volume of traffic driving in and out of Dubuque on U.S. 20 continued to grow.

When IDOT held public meetings concerning plans for the area a few years ago, virtually every citizen in attendance had a story about how treacherous that stretch of highway is.

Heavy rains have sometimes brought further concerns, with as much as 5 inches of rain sometimes standing on U.S. 20 near Swiss Valley Road. The intersection is dangerous enough without slow drainage in inclement weather adding peril to motorists.

Initial plans called for straightening the westbound lanes of U.S. 20 and creating a wider median for turning truck traffic. As project managers examined the intersection, they determined a better approach would be the installation of a diamond interchange at the intersection. The interchange would bridge Swiss Valley Road over U.S. 20, with frontage roads allowing access to nearby businesses and residences, rather than having direct highway access.

Between this project and the recently completed Southwest Arterial, at-grade highway intersections will be eliminated from Cottingham Road on the edge of Peosta to Old Highway Road in Dubuque. Anyone who has attempted a left turn against the highway-speed traffic knows just how difficult that can be.

Paving work has started, and the project is scheduled to be completed around Thanksgiving. That means residents of Peosta and other area communities will have to be patient as the work is underway. DOT officials will keep two lanes of traffic open in each direction during the day and one lane at night.

It’s great to see this project finally on the docket. The planning and execution over the course of this year will dramatically increase driver safety on this busy Dubuque County roadway.

Editorials reflect the consensus of the Telegraph Herald Editorial Board.

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