Dubuque, Iowa, is a major crossroads area in the upper Midwest given that
it is the only major river crossing between the Quad Cities and La Crosse
(with Sabula, Lansing, Clinton, and Prairie du Chien being less well connected
or minor crossings). Dubuque is also a major commercial area supporting
manufacturing and farming over a wide radius of the tri-state area.
The City of Dubuque does have a modern interstate grade river crossing, and
a well developed river-front freeway to move traffic along the US-61 and
US-151 corridor. That is the good news. There are, however, several major
problems with traffic flow in Dubuque. First, the major highway to the west,
US-20, enters the city though several miles of congested city traffic.
Second, the two lane US-20 Julien Dubuque Mississippi River Bridge is
overwhelmed with traffic. Third, traffic from the northwest has to follow
many miles of twisting narrow roads.
This proposal is to fix the first two major traffic problems. The US-20
problem of dumping heavy through truck traffic into the congested city
section of US-20 can be solved by adding a new section of roadway called
the 'South Connector'. This roadway would be a freeway or expressway grade
section of road about 2 miles long that would connect US-20 just as it
enters the city, and bypass the traffic to US-151 on the north side of
The South Connector serves several purposes. First, eastbound US-20 traffic
can remain on freeway grade highways. As that traffic approaches the airport,
it has the option of entering Dubuque to the north via an existing freeway,
or head south to other major cities via existing freeways. Traffic from
the south now has the option of a 2 mile connector to get to westbound US-20
without having to make an 10 mile trip through the city, and it avoids two
major hills. Finally, traffic heading to US-20 west has a freeway grade
path that avoids the congestion in west Dubuque. Moving this through traffic
out of the congested area would help reduce the congestion, making life
better for those who do shop along the US-20 business district. I suggest
that this is a huge gain for the investment of 2 miles of divided highway.
A second independent project is addressing the Julien Dubuque Bridge problem.
This historic bridge cannot be expanded or removed. Adding a new freeway
style bridge in that area would spoil the look of the Julien Dubuque bridge.
Adding a twin to the steel truss bridge would be cost-prohibitive. Another
factor in the equation is that Illinois has long wanted to upgrade US-20
to being a full freeway from Rockford to Dubuque.
My proposal is for a new Mississippi River bridge located about three
miles downstream of the current Julien Dubuque bridge. The Julien Dubuque
would remain in place as a local crossing. Through traffic and all trucks
would use the new freeway grade bridge. This bridge would connect to a
divided section of US-20 in Illinois, and connect to US-52 near its
intersection with the divided US-61/US-151 expressway.
The benefits of such a bridge is that it would preserve the historic
Julien Dubuque bridge, and it would provide a high-speed freeway grade
bypass of Dubuque for US-20. US-20 could eventually be granted an
Interstate highway number, such as I-390. In addition, traffic moving
though Dubuque from five of the six major headings can move though and
around the city using freeway grade connections without having to move
onto local city streets.