116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
DES MOINES — While he said “the bridges aren’t Republican or Democrat,” federal Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said he does notice when elected Republicans who opposed federal infrastructure funding tout its impact.
Buttigieg and U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne, both Democrats, spoke to Iowa reporters Thursday on a press call about infrastructure funding and projects.
The $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill in 2021 passed with just two Republican yes votes in the U.S. House and 19 yes votes in the U.S. Senate, including Iowa’s Chuck Grassley.
All House and Senate Democrats voted for the bill.
“One of the things that we’ve found is that even those political figures who did not support this funding seem to be no less eager to have that funding come to communities,” Buttigieg said. “Look, the point of this is to benefit communities; you cut through the politics and it’s about making sure we actually get things done. The bridges aren’t Republican or Democrat. …
“You do notice some of the folks who campaigned or argued against this legislation who now seem to be very happy for this funding to be coming to their districts or their states,” Buttigieg added. “I guess I’d say the sincerest form of flattery is when a politician who was not for one of these policies winds up agreeing with how great they are in practice.”
Iowa will receive roughly $5 billion in federal infrastructure funding over five years, the White House estimated. The state transportation department estimated the funding will create a 25 percent boost in the first year, increasing to a 35 percent boost by the fifth year.
While the federal funding comes with guidelines, it is largely up to states to determine how and where to deploy the funding.
“When we talk about, for example, $3.9 billion coming to Iowa for roads and bridges alone, that’s funding that we’re going to oversee, but then it will be up to state and local leaders to effectively deploy,” Buttigieg said.
According to the White House, the infrastructure bill will provide to Iowa:
- $3.4 billion for highways in poor condition
- $432 million for bridge replacement and repairs
- $638 million for water infrastructure
- $305 million for public transportation
- $120 million for airport infrastructure and upgrades
- $100 million — and possibly more — for expanding broadband internet coverage
- $15 million for protection against cyberattacks
Iowa received an overall C grade in the most recent Infrastructure Report Card from the national American Society of Civil Engineers, including a C+ grade for its roads. According to the report, 29 percent of Iowa’s major roads are in poor or mediocre condition and 15 percent of the state’s rural roads are in poor condition. That report credited the 2015 fuel tax increase for “much needed funding for short-term critical needs.”
That same report gives Iowa a D+ for the condition of its bridges. Iowa has the largest share of structurally deficient bridges in the nation, according to the report. Roughly 4,500 bridges in Iowa are in poor condition, according state transportation data, roughly 4,300 of which are under county jurisdictions.
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