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DOT: Not All Money Needs to Go for Same Old Road Projects

April 22, 2009

Des Moines, IA – Transportation planning officials in Iowa are scrambling to get projects back to the Federal Transportation Committee for re-authorization of funding, but some say many of those projects reflect Iowans' addiction to driving, rather than offering ways to fight climate change through enhancing public transit.

Public transit advocates say the lion's share of stimulus money is going towards new or wider roads instead of to projects that cost-effectively reduce tailpipe emissions. However, the Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) is looking for input from Iowans at six public meetings across the state on sustainable transportation and land use options.

Michelle McEnany, director of the Iowa DOT office of Public Transit, says these meetings are part of an effort set up by the legislature last session to identify gaps in current public transit and learn what Iowans would like to see in future transportation plans.

"Is it through public transit? Is it buses? Is it van pools? Maybe it's car sharing or car pooling; even passenger rail is in the mix."

McEnany says Iowans need a transportation system that uses tax dollars wisely when it comes to improving roads.

"Putting transit on the road sometimes requires that we do improve the streets, that we make the streets more transit-friendly, pedestrian-friendly, bike-friendly. "

She says while Iowa needs to maintain existing roads, it's also a good idea to scrutinize new road construction and the more than 36 million dollars of the stimulus money received by the Iowa DOT that will go toward transit projects.

The first meeting is in Ames April 28th, beginning at 5:30 at the Quality Inn.

Dick Layman, Public News Service - IA