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"Fix it First" Approach to Good Roads

February 1, 2008

Des Moines IA – Iowa, like many states, has roads and bridges that are decades old and in need of repairs, and the Iowa Department of Transportation is projecting a $200 million a year shortfall for new road construction. Stephanie Weisenbach with 1,000 Friends of Iowa says it's vital to make Iowa's downtowns attractive places for businesses to locate, which means the legislature has to prioritize maintaining those existing roads.

"If the legislature puts too much money into new roads and wider highways, that will encourage businesses to locate at the edges of our cities, instead of in Iowa's downtowns and Main Streets."

She says the way to stretch taxpayer money and help the local economy is by taking a "fix-it-first" approach for existing roads, instead of new construction.

"Although lawmakers are talking about road maintenance, the language of the legislation for road money does not explicitly put maintenance first."

Weisenbach says the legislature should not write a blank check for just any kind of road construction, because that would lead to the new money being used for urban sprawl on valuable Iowa farmland.

Dick Layman/Kevin Clay, Public News Service - IA