Iowa faces big shortfall on highway needs

Revenue in question as costs continue to rise

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Iowa has a shortfall of $215 million to meet the state’s most critical public roadway needs, according to a December 2011 Road Use Tax Fund Study prepared for the Iowa Legislature by the Iowa Department of Transportation.

Critical needs include pavement and bridge preservation on Iowa’s interstate system, key roads for industry and farming and major city streets.

Iowa has 114,153 miles of primary, secondary and municipal roads, with much of the system built or modernized in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, the DOT reported. The condition of Iowa’s roads compared to other states was in the bottom half for rural and urban areas, according to a study of 2008 data from the Reason Foundation included in the DOT report.

While highway needs continue to mount, revenue streams are in question, said Stuart Anderson, director of the IDOT’s Planning, Programming and Modal Division. Local revenue has been flat, and federal funds unstable. The DOT also faces unknowns, such as whether increased use of hybrid vehicles will reduce the money the DOT gets from the fuel user fee.

“The total of all needs that exist or will exist on the system in the next 20 years far exceeds forecast revenue,” Anderson said.

The DOT has about $80 million budgeted for each of the next four years for “new” construction that includes segments on new alignment or additional lanes to primary roads for economic development, Anderson said. These types of projects include the Mount Vernon-Lisbon Highway 30 bypass and Highway 100 extension.

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