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Newscast 11.22.2023: Thanksgiving meal cost declines from year ago, Highway 20 project at Sioux City wraps Year One work, gas prices continue to fall

Highway traffic
Highway traffic

Thanksgiving is one day away, and the average cost for people to put out a traditional turkey meal spread is down from a year ago, but still higher than in 2019.

The American Farm Bureau Federation each year reports the average cost of a Thanksgiving meal for 10 people, and this year the cost is $61.17, a 4.5 percent decrease from 2022. For Siouxlanders and others living in the Midwest, the regional cost of the meal is even less, at $58.66.

Iowa Farm Bureau economist Christopher Pudenz said the inflation rate for food has dropped, when compared to 2021 and 2022. Pudenz placed the major reason for the lessened holiday meal cost as due to an ample supply of turkeys.

The annual Farm Bureau survey is carried out in all 50 states in the first week of November, before many grocery store chains begin featuring whole frozen turkeys at discounted prices.

So what is in the Thanksgiving meal?

Items in the Farm Bureau survey include frozen pie crusts, pumpkin pie mix, whipping cream, dinner rolls, fresh cranberries, whole milk, frozen peas, sweet potatoes and stuffing.

And, as a lot of people get ready to travel for the Thanksgiving holiday, the price of gasoline is dropping in Siouxland.

A summary provided by the Iowa Department of Agriculture shows the price of regular unleaded continues to fall, in a trend that has lasted more than a month.

The price of regular unleaded gasoline fell 6 cents over the last week, averaging $2.97 across Iowa. The week before, the price dropped by 8 cents per gallon.

Several Sioux City area stations are currently selling unleaded in the range from $2.72 to $2.95 per gallon.

Prices in Iowa are down 47 cents from one year ago, and the national average for unleaded is $3.30 per gallon. The price for diesel also dropped over the last week, by 7 cents, to $4.17 per gallon on average, compared to $5 one year ago.

The price of gas often falls at the end of many years, as people travel less.

In other travel related news, the first phase of a major U.S. Highway 20 reconstruction on the east edge of Sioux City has been completed.

The Iowa Department of Transportation is carrying out a substantial project from where Highway 20 intersects with the Highway 75 bypass for two miles east. The $32 million dollar project over two years will change the highway grade to be less hilly by removing a lot of dirt and also create wider intersections to connecting county roads.

The work comes as more business and residential growth is occurring on the east edge of Sioux City, and a better connection to the Whispering Creek area will be in place.

Therefore the busy four lanes into and out from Sioux City were reduced to two lanes for this year as the work was carried out, and the number of lanes drivers can use will again be halved in 2024, when part two will take place.

This has resulted in a substantial delay in the time for people getting into and out of Sioux City on the east side, with some on-ramps closed and drivers from three directions all funneled into one place with a stop light and long waits at times.

The eastbound Highway 20 work that began on May 1, and which covered nearly seven months, has been done, and all four lanes are now open Wednesday IDOT announced.

Next year, the westbound lanes will be reconstructed, when again the number of lanes that people can drive for many months will be reduced from four to two.