Business, property owners offer mixed reactions to proposed changes to Dodge-NW Arterial intersection

Virtual presentation

The Iowa Department of Transportation seeks public input on its proposed improvements at the intersection of U.S. 20/Dodge Street and the Northwest Arterial.

A virtual presentation can be found at, and comments about the plan can be submitted online through Oct. 13. 

Local business and property owners offered mixed assessments of a proposed road improvement project that would make significant changes to a major Dubuque intersection.

The Iowa Department of Transportation held a public meeting this week allowing residents to ask questions and provide their opinions on the project to improve traffic at the intersection of Dodge Street/U.S. 20 and the Northwest Arterial. State officials intend to review the feedback before deciding whether to request state funding for the project.

While local business owners said they support the project’s aim to improve traffic safety, several also expressed concerns that the proposed changes would make it harder for customers to reach their businesses.

“I like the idea of the project, but I have my concerns,” said Jim Riley, owner of Riley Subaru, 4455 Dodge St. “I just don’t want people to have to drive all around to get to my business.”

The base proposal for the project features the closure of the intersection’s southern road access leading to Walmart, along with the closure of several driveway access points on Dodge near the intersection.

A new frontage road would be constructed south of Dodge to provide access from Westside Drive to the numerous businesses along the roadway, including Walmart. Lowe’s and Walmart also could continue to be accessed via the intersection of Dodge Street and North Crescent Ridge/Menard Court.

Another frontage road would be created just north of Dodge and west of the Northwest Arterial to provide access to the Riley Subaru and Finnin Kia car dealerships, which also would have their driveway access to Dodge removed. The northern frontage road would feature a right-turn-on, right-turn-off access directly off the highway.

Optional proposals include connecting the new northern frontage road to Old Highway Road, creating a separate right-turn lane for westbound Dodge traffic turning onto the Northwest Arterial and making intersection improvements to the intersection at Dodge and North Crescent.

Sam Shea, district transportation planner for Iowa DOT, said the project likely would cost $8 million to $15 million if all of the proposed improvements are included, and construction would begin in 2028 at the earliest.

However, some business owners said they take issue with the base version of the project, while others argued against closing the intersection’s southern road access leading to Walmart.

That access allows customers to quickly get to Widmeier Furniture and Flooring, 4390 Dodge St. Owner Joe Widmeier said closing it would make it much harder for people to reach his business.

“I think people will find it inconvenient to have to drive all the way down one end to the other of a frontage road,” he said. “I do see where the project will help traffic, but I’m not quite sure why we can’t just leave the existing entrance.”

The operators of the two car dealerships located just northwest of the intersection — Riley Subaru and Finnin Kia — both said they believe a new frontage road granting access to their businesses also should have a direct connection to Old Highway Road. Otherwise, eastbound drivers on Dodge will need to drive a significant extra distance to reach the dealerships.

“That would be a big issue,” said April Finnin-Rink, president of Finnin Kia. “There needs to be a way that people driving east can easily get to us.”

Not all property owners were opposed to the project.

Jim Hauber owns undeveloped commercial property along Old Highway Road, some of which would need to be obtained by the DOT in order for the proposed project to occur. He argued that the project will improve highway safety.

“I’m very positive about the project,” he said. “It will alleviate a lot of the congestion that happens there.”

Shea said this week that he had already received numerous comments and concerns about the project, but there is general agreement that traffic improvements are needed at the intersection.

“A lot of people think traffic in the area needs to be better,” he said. “We’re going to be reviewing what everyone said. We’re still in the conceptual phase with this.”