U.S. Route 20 in Iowa

U.S. Route 20 in Iowa is a major east-west artery running across the state approximately one-third of the way from the Minnesota border to the Missouri border. It enters the state concurrently with Interstate 129 and U.S. Route 75 by a Missouri River crossing at Sioux City and runs in a more-or-less straight line to Dubuque. The state of Iowa is in the process of upgrading U.S. 20 to a four-lane, limited-access highway for its entire length in Iowa.

Route description

There are seven primary sections of U.S. 20 in Iowa, as follows:

Sioux City to U.S. Route 71

U.S. 20 and U.S. 75 run concurrently on a freeway bypassing Sioux City to the southeast. Immediately after U.S. 20 enters Iowa, it junctions Interstate 29. This junction is the eastern terminus of Interstate 129. At Gordon Drive, U.S. 20 leaves the freeway (U.S. 75 continues as a freeway or expressway to Le Mars) and enters an expressway alignment which continues to a point just east of Moville. There, U.S. 20 becomes a two-lane highway. It passes through Correctionville and is briefly concurrent with U.S. Route 59 as an expressway south of Holstein. Its north junction with U.S. Route 71 is three miles north of the small town of Early. The two roads run concurrently until a point two miles south of Early, where U.S. 20 turns east.

U.S. Route 71 to Moorland

From U.S. 71, U.S. 20 remains a two-lane highway until Moorland. It passes through the towns of Sac City, Lytton, Rockwell City, and Roelyn before reaching Moorland.

Moorland to Iowa Highway 17

Just east of Moorland, U.S. 20 again becomes an expressway, running to the south of Fort Dodge. There are two full interchanges on this section, one at U.S. Route 169 and the other at Webster County Road P59 in Coalville. Otherwise, all intersections are at grade level.

Iowa Highway 17 to Iowa Highway 14

Beginning at the junction of Iowa 17 on the Webster County/Hamilton County line near the unincorporated village of Flugstad, U.S. 20 becomes a full freeway and remains so throughout this entire section. U.S. 20 and Iowa 17 run together until Webster City, where Iowa 17 departs and turns south. U.S. 20 junctions Interstate 35 near Williams in eastern Hamilton County. It then junctions U.S. Route 65 south of Iowa Falls and Iowa Highway 14 south of Parkersburg, as well as a number of county roads along the way.

Iowa Highway 14 to Waterloo

East of Iowa 14, U.S. 20 is a major bypass allowing through traffic to avoid passing through the cities of Cedar Falls and Waterloo. At the junction of Iowa Highway 58, U.S. 20 joins with Iowa Highway 27 and thus becomes part of the route of the Avenue of the Saints. U.S. 20 junctions U.S. Route 63 at Sergeant Road in Waterloo, then junctions Interstate 380 and U.S. Route 218 on the southeast side of Waterloo. U.S. 20, Iowa 27, and Interstate 380 run together approximately six miles to a point near Raymond, where Iowa 27 and Interstate 380 turn southeastward towards Cedar Rapids.

Waterloo to Delaware

U.S. 20 continues as a freeway through this section. It junctions Iowa Highway 150 at Independence and Iowa Highway 13 at Manchester, as well as junctioning a number of county roads serving smaller communities.

The approximately 21 miles between Independence and Manchester goes over a terminal moraine and enters the Driftless Area, a region it will not exit until Stockton, Illinois.

Delaware to Dubuque

At Delaware, U.S. 20 becomes an expressway once again, with at-grade intersections. However, there are still many interchanges where U.S. 20 meets major roads, mostly at the towns along U.S. 20's route. U.S. 20 serves Earlville, Dyersville (passing near the Field of Dreams filming site), Farley, Epworth, and Peosta before entering Dubuque. U.S. 20 remains at least four lanes through Dubuque, but there are several stoplights along the route, particularly on the western edge of the city. There is a brief controlled-access section where the highway descends into the Mississippi River valley. Near the river, a short connecting road connects U.S. 20 with U.S. Route 52, U.S. Route 61, and U.S. Route 151, which have entered the city from the south as an expressway and continue northward as a freeway. U.S. 20 crosses from Iowa into Illinois via the Julien Dubuque Bridge.

Business routes

  • Sioux City: Business U.S. 20 in the Sioux City area actually originates in Nebraska, at the junction of Dakota Avenue and Interstate 129 in South Sioux City. Business U.S. 20 follows U.S. 20's old alignment through South Sioux City before crossing into Iowa concurrently with U.S. Route 77. Business U.S. 20 joins with Interstate 29 via a complicated interchange, running with the Interstate for about one mile before exiting onto Gordon Drive. It follows Gordon Drive through central Sioux City to the U.S. 20/U.S. 75 bypass, where Business U.S. 20 ends.
  • Fort Dodge: In the Fort Dodge area, Business U.S. 20 begins at the western end of the current U.S. 20 expressway near Moorland and follows U.S. 20's former route through the city via Kenyon Road and 5th Avenue South. Just east of Fort Dodge's eastern city limits, Business U.S. 20 turns south on Webster County Road P59, passing through several gypsum mining areas before ending at the U.S. 20 expressway in Coalville.


U.S. 20 was designated in Iowa on October 16, 1926. The designation created a single route number for drivers to follow across the state from Sioux City to Dubuque; previously, three route numbers were used.

Expansion project

The first segment of U.S. 20 in Iowa to become four lanes was a short expressway segment east of Moville, which opened in 1958. Another short expressway segment in the Dubuque area opened in 1959. The rest of the expressway from Sioux City to Moville opened in 1964. By 1979 the Sioux City bypass was complete, as well as the section from Iowa 17 to Interstate 35, and the section from Independence to Delaware. By the end of the 1980s, the four-lane portions of U.S. 20 ran from Coalville (near Fort Dodge) to Interstate 35 and from Waterloo to Dubuque.

During the 1990s little work was done to the route. It was extended westward to U.S. 169 in 1991, and eastward to U.S. 65 the same year, though initially the section from Interstate 35 to U.S. 65 was only two lanes. The new, semi-controlled section in Dubuque opened in 1996.

Work began to accelerate in 2000. The section between Interstate 35 and U.S. 65 became four lanes that year. The segment from Iowa 14 to Cedar Falls also opened in 2000. By 2003, the highway was complete from Fort Dodge to Dubuque.

Former alignment

It is possible to drive most of U.S. 20's former two-lane alignment from Moorland to Dubuque. Most of this routing (with the exception of Iowa Highway 57 from U.S. 65 to Cedar Falls) is now under city and county control, but most of the guide signs remain from when U.S. 20 followed this route. From Moorland, the highway's former alignment Business U.S. 20 through Fort Dodge. At County Road P59, it continues on County Road D20. The road changes designations several times between this point and Iowa Falls, but its route is very clear. It follows U.S. 65 north out of Iowa Falls to the junction of Iowa 57, then follows 57 to Cedar Falls. At Cedar Falls, the former alignment continues on U.S. 218 to Broadway Street; through Waterloo, it follows Broadway to Franklin Street to Dubuque Road. Beyond Waterloo the designation of the road again changes several times, but the route to follow remains clear. Between Dyersville and Farley U.S. 20 follows its historic alignment. At Farley, the former alignment follows Old Highway Road into Dubuque.


As of 2006, the state of Iowa is acquiring right of way to extend the U.S. 20 expressway westward from its current end at Moorland to a point 1.5 miles west of the current north junction with U.S. 71. Paving work is scheduled between Iowa Highway 4 and Moorland in 2010. However, it is expected that only two lanes of this segment will initially be paved, with the other two lanes to be paved at some later date. No work beyond right of way acquisition is scheduled on the segment between Iowa 4 and U.S. 71 as of October 2006.

West of U.S. 71, the remaining length of U.S. 20 (approximately 60 miles) faces an uncertain future. The state has stated its intention to finish the project, but has not formally committed to a completion date. Community leaders in the northwestern Iowa communities which would be served by a four-lane U.S. 20 continue to advocate for its completion, and impact studies are under way.


  • The "four corners" interchange of Business U.S. 20 and U.S. 77 with Interstate 29 in Sioux City is a three-level diamond interchange, with turns between the two highways being handled by a set of interlocking frontage roads. Because of the interchange's complexity, the local Chamber of Commerce has dubbed this "Iowa's Most Stupid Intersection." A similar interchange is found at the junction of Interstate 380 and Iowa Highway 100 in Cedar Rapids. This interchange will be converted to a standard diamond interchange when Interstate 29 is reconstructed in Sioux City between 2007 and 2011.
  • The crossing of the Iowa River near Owasa was built using environmentally friendly construction techniques to avoid disturbing the river valley's ecosystem.
  • When the segment from U.S. 65 to Iowa 14 opened, U.S. 20 no longer entered Butler County at all.
  • If the former alignment of U.S. 20 is turned over to local control once the four-lane expansion is completed to U.S. 71, Sac City will be the only county seat in Iowa not located on a U.S. or state highway.

Exit list

County Location Mile # Destinations Notes
Crossing the Missouri River from South Sioux City, Nebraska. See for exit list.
Woodbury Sioux City 1 , South Sioux City End of overlap with I-129.
Signed as exits 1A (north) and 1B (south).
1 Lakeport Road
2 Sunnybrook Drive
3 Morningside Avenue Former
4 End of overlap with US 75.
Signed as exits 4A (east) and 4B (west).
Ida Holstein West end of US 59 overlap.
East end of US 59 overlap.
Sac Schaller
Early West end of US 71 overlap.
East end of US 71 overlap.
Sac City
Calhoun Rockwell City West end of IA 4 overlap.
East end of IA 4 overlap.
Webster Moorland US 20 Business signed eastbound only
Fort Dodge 121
Coalville Crossing the Des Moines River
124 US 20 Business signed westbound only
Hamilton Webster City 136 West end of IA 17 overlap.
140 East end of IA 17 overlap.
Blairsburg 149
Williams 153 Signed as exits 153A (south) and 153B (north)
Hardin Buckeye 162 Former
Iowa Falls 168
Owasa 175
Crossing the Iowa River
Steamboat Rock 181
Grundy Wellsburg 187 Former
Milepost equation: 195 back = 208 ahead.
Holland 208
Dike 215
Black Hawk
Cedar Falls 224 , University of Northern Iowa, UNI-Dome West end of IA 58 overlap.
225 , Airport East end of IA 58 overlap. West end of IA 27 overlap.
Waterloo 227
229 Ansborough Avenue
West end of I-380 overlap.
Signed as exits 232A/71B (south) and 232B/71A (north)
Evansdale 70 River Forest Road
68 Evansdale Drive – Elk Run Heights
Raymond 66 Former
East end of I-380 / IA 27 overlap.
Buchanan Jesup 245
Independence 252 Independence
Crossing the Wapsipinicon River
Winthrop 261 Former
Masonville 266
Delaware Manchester 275
Delaware 282
Earlville 285
Dubuque Dyersville 294
Farley 300
Epworth 304
Peosta 308 , Northeast Iowa Community College
Grandview Avenue, Fremont Avenue
Hill Street, Bryant Street
Crossing the Mississippi River into East Dubuque, Illinois. See for exit list.

External links


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