NORTHWEST ARTERIAL. The Northwest Arterial was a four-lane highway stretching four-fifths of a mile from U.S. 20 to Pennsylvania Avenue and then in a gradual northeast direction past Asbury Road on to Kennedy Road at 32nd Street. As part of the DUBUQUE METROPOLITAN AREA TRANSPORTATION STUDY, the highway was planned as a by-pass around Dubuque linking Highway 20 on the west with US 52/State Highway 3 on the north.
Forming part of the eastern boundary of one of the DUBUQUE INDUSTRIAL PARKS, the highway, completed in 1982, cost $2.3 million for the section from Highway 20 to Pennsylvania and $4.4 million to complete the project to Kennedy Road in 1989. A 3-1 ratio of city-borrowed money to federal funds was used for construction. The section up to Pennsylvania was built for $500,000 less than anticipated. In the late 1990s the Northwest Arterial was expanded from Kennedy Road out to U.S. 52.
The construction of the by-pass fueled business and residential growth on the western edge of Dubuque. The Embassy West residential area west of the Northwest Arterial and north of Pennsylvania (Middle Road) rapidly expanded to the north. MEDICAL ASSOCIATES located its west campus south of Kennedy Road and east of the bypass. The surrounding area was quickly developed with several restaurants, a credit union building, and a furniture store. North of Asbury Road, development occurred somewhat slower. A Culver's restaurant on the northwest corner of the intersection of Kennedy Road and the bypass was immediately popular. The decision of Hy-Vee to open a large grocery store served as the anchor for the development of ASBURY PLAZA into a growing shopping center by 2006. Further north along the by-pass, STEVE'S ACE HARDWARE on Kennedy Road was the only commercial development closely linked to the highway as late as 2010.
Controversy repeatedly arose as the by-pass was interrupted with stop lights. In 2008 stop lights were located at Associates Drive, Pennsylvania Avenue, Holliday Drive, Asbury, and Kennedy Roads. In addition an access road existed to the northern edge of Asbury Plaza.