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Coalition Seeks Highway Expansion

The Highway 61 Coalition hopes a new industry in Lee County will spur some much-anticipated highway improvements.

The organization spent years pushing for the construction of a bypass around Fort Madison.

That project is now complete, so the coalition is now shifting its forwards towards roughly 35 miles of Highway 61 between Burlington and Muscatine County.

President Vern Meierotto of West Point says that stretch of the highway remains two-lane, which he says hurts economic development and increases safety concerns.

He says those issues will be even more in the spotlight when Iowa Fertilizer Company’s new plant near Wever is complete.

Meierotto says tens of thousands of trucks will travel to the plant each year, many using the two-lane stretch of Highway 61.

He says about $30-million has been set aside to expand about 15% of the project.

The coalition plans to attend more statewide transportation meetings to push for the tens of millions of dollars more that will be needed to complete the highway.

Jason Parrott is a former reporter at Tri States Public Radio.