They are Singing our Tune

Transportation is essential to Iowa’s economic well-being. It plays a critical role in creating jobs and stimulating lasting growth for the state. The Avenue of the Saints corridor touches 13 Iowa counties, a population of 320,000 and a labor force of 180,000. As the project was envisioned more than 20 years ago, the four-lane Avenue of the Saints corridor is generating many positive benefits for the state, including enhanced mobility, economic development, job creation, and increased highway safety.

Mobility and time savings
  • Manufacturers operating in rural areas, as well as persons involved in selecting sites for new plants, consistently emphasize the importance of easy access to four-lane highways. Multi-lane highways reduce costs of production and distribution, especially as manufacturers increase their use of just-in-time production practices.
  • New industrial parks are being sited along the Avenue of the Saints corridor because the highway allows large trucks access to the plants, and makes it easy for employees to commute to and from work. Iowa’s manufacturing and bio-energy industries depend on the Saints to transport its raw materials and parts to the plants, and its finished units to market.
  • In Iowa, the Avenue of the Saints connects with Interstates 35 and 80, linking the state to the transcontinental trucking network. Being connected to these major corridors makes the Saints more attractive to companies shipping goods in and out of the state, which adds to Iowa’s economic development.
  • The Avenue of the Saints corridor has expanded the regional job market by making it easier to commute to and from work. This means a wider range of jobs are available to persons living in rural areas of the state.
  • The four-lane Saints highway also provides rural residents with better access to shopping, health care, recreation, cultural activities, and educational opportunities. The most recent National Personal Transportation Study found that people are living further from their jobs, and that their work commutes often include several other stops, such as day care, schools, shopping or social engagements.
  • With the state, national and global economy expanding, shipping has increased, making efficient transportation paramount. While time savings vary by destination and speed, in general, the Avenue of the Saints corridor was designed to save motorists crossing the state approximately one hour in travel time. This time and fuel savings is significant to commercial shippers and businesses making just-in-time deliveries.
  • Agriculture and agricultural support businesses, such as the bio-energy industry, are benefiting from the four-lane Saints corridor through more direct routes to the interstate and intermodal facilities.
  • The level of highway safety is influenced by three factors: the driver, vehicle and road characteristics. A road that is less congested, has its lanes of traffic separated by a median, and has fewer intersections means less opportunities for conflict; and, ultimately, fewer injuries and deaths.
  • The most recent national highway safety statistics show that undivided two-lane highways have 10.25 times more fatalities than divided four-lane highways.
  • The four-lane Avenue of the Saints, which includes a number of community bypasses, represents a dramatic improvement over the former two-lane system that linked St. Paul and St. Louis. The former highway alignment went directly through many small Iowa towns with 25 mile-per-hour speed limits, stop signs and signalized intersections. The new four-lane thoroughfare increases safety, reduces congestion and bottlenecks, and eliminates dangerous crossings and intersections.
  • The Avenue of the Saints, as well as other four-lane highways in Iowa, has played a significant role in reducing motor vehicle crashes, and related injuries and fatalities.
  • The expansion of Iowa’s four-lane highway system has helped stimulate economic growth in the state by attracting new companies and retaining existing businesses lured to move their operations to other states.
  • The Avenue of the Saints corridor is in an ideal location for manufacturing and distribution facilities. Companies like Wal-Mart, Target and Martin-Brower are just a few of the companies that have found Iowa an attractive business location. They and others are choosing locations along the Avenue of the Saints corridor as the site for their Midwest distribution centers. “Since 2001, 19 logistics and distribution companies either established new locations or expanded existing ones,” reports Lisa Skubal, vice chair of the Cedar Valley Regional Partnership, based in Waterloo-Cedar Falls. “These companies opened approximately 2.4 million square feet of new distribution space.” See the March 2008 article by InBound Logistics about the companies locating in Iowa and the benefits the Saints corridor affords them.
  • The total number of businesses within five miles of the Avenue of the Saints has substantially increased in the last five years. Highway-oriented businesses such as gas stations, motels, restaurants, and convenience stores were the first wave of development for many of the communities along the improved four-lane highway.
  • The second wave of development has come from new and expanding manufacturing, bio-energy and distribution businesses in counties along the corridor. The most recent wave is the stimulus of retail-based economic development, ranging from massive agglomerations of outlet stores at major interchanges, to national chain stores, to antique shops and craft stores.
  • An investment of $541 million in Iowa’s Avenue of the Saints construction was responsible for giving the state’s economy a boost through the nearly 5,500 jobs it supported in the highway construction and materials industries, as well as another 2,800 jobs in other related industries.
Recreation, tourism and cultural
  • This four-lane highway is also helping attract visitors to local recreation and tourism destinations along the corridor.
  • The construction of bypasses around many of Iowa’s historic towns helps to preserve the rural and historic character of these communities, further enhancing the prospects for cultural tourism along its path.
  • Four laning the corridor has also improved visitors’ perceptions about the accessibility of the attractions along the corridor, stimulating additional trips. In addition, attractions on major multi-lane highways are more likely to be included as stops on bus tours than are similar attractions located on two-lane highways.