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Rural Iowa Roads Overlooked For Repairs?

June 15, 2012

DES MOINES, Iowa - The Iowa Department of Transportation will spend $2.6 billion to replace worn-out bridges and making upgrades to interstate highways during the next five years.

The plan includes almost $800 million just for bridge projects. A majority of the money is being targeted for urban centers with high-profile projects, and a smaller amount is earmarked for rural roads, many of which have fallen into disrepair.

State Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Tom Rielly, D-Oskaloosa, says rural roads need attention, too.

"It's for both urban centers and rural, and the rural county roads - the farm-to-market roads - because we want to make sure that the farm-to-market roads are being treated as they should, as well."

He says the Legislature has declined to raise Iowa's gasoline tax to generate additional road-repair revenue.

"We have dug ourselves a huge hole because it's been 23 years since there has been any kind of adjustment in the road use-tax fund. That has to be addressed or these kind of roads are just going to fall apart, even worse than what they are right now."

The governor has indicated he will push for an increase during the next session. There also is uncertainty about the amount of federal highway money Congress will allow to come to the state.

Dick Layman, Public News Service - IA