Anyone who has seen the Pixar movie Cars — or thought for a moment about how roads have changed over the past half-century — knows that bypasses around towns have a tremendous impact on traffic patterns. The latest to experience this shift are Tama and Toledo on the Lincoln Highway in Iowa. As reported by the Cedar Rapids Gazette, the 7,500 vehicles that daily went through the towns on U.S. 30 have been reduced to a trickle since a bypass opened. Motels and restaurants such as the King Tower Restaurant, below, are feeling the impact.
Since acquiring the local landmark eight years ago, Kristy Tovar has made a decent living running the King Tower Restaurant on the east side of Tama. Since the $82 million bypass opened, though, King Tower is no longer visible from the highway. Tovar’s anything but confident about the restaurant’s future.
“I never really thought that having this highway change would make that much difference, because most of our customers were local. I’d probably say business has been cut at least in half or more,” she said….
Since the days when it was known as the Lincoln Highway, Highway 30 has been the lifeblood of Tama-Toledo. Visitors recall the distinctive Indian head souvenirs sign at King Tower, which has been open since 1937, and the Lincoln Highway bridge that was an early architectural feature of the first transcontinental highway….
Brad Crawford is manager of the 54-year-old Big T Maid-Rite in Toledo. He said rumors are already flying about big restaurant chains like McDonald’s snapping up the good real estate along the bypass to open new restaurants.
Crawford is saving to buy a service sign on the bypass, but the cost will cut into funds he’d otherwise spend to advertise in the local newspaper and high school yearbook.