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John A. Weeks III
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Highways, Byways, And Bridge Photography

Proposed Dubuque Iowa
Freeway Bypass And Bridge Location


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 airport.


Proposed Dubuque Iowa Bypass

Note—Click on the image to see a full-sized view of the Dubuque Bypass proposal.
Click here for a high-bandwidth version of the image.


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.

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