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Report: 42% of Iowa Roads in Poor Condition

PHOTO: Nearly half of Iowa roads are in poor shape and 23 percent of Iowa bridges are considered to be functionally obsolete, according to a study from the transportation research group 'TRIP.' Photo credit: Deborah C. Smith
PHOTO: Nearly half of Iowa roads are in poor shape and 23 percent of Iowa bridges are considered to be functionally obsolete, according to a study from the transportation research group 'TRIP.' Photo credit: Deborah C. Smith
July 31, 2013

DES MOINES, Iowa - Nearly half of Iowa roads are in poor shape, and 23 percent of Iowa bridges are considered to be functionally obsolete, according to a study from the transportation research group TRIP.

Much of the money spent on roads over the years in Iowa has gone to new roads instead of fixing existing roads, which has led to urban sprawl around cities, the group's research found.

Stu Anderson, director of the Iowa Department of Transportation planning department, said what the state needs is an increase in the gas tax.

"What our estimate is here in Iowa is that our public roadway system requires an additional $215 million of funding each and every year," he said, "to address just those most critical needs that exist on the roadway system."

The state's gas tax was last adjusted in 1989, and efforts to raise the tax this past session fell flat. In Anderson's opinion, the Legislature's funding method of spending a lot one year and belt-tightening the next isn't working.

"These individual years of high investment won't be able to move the overall system conditions that much," he said, "just because we have such a large infrastructure system in the state."

Vehicle travel on Iowa highways has increased by 36 percent since 1990, he said, while the state's population has grown only 11 percent. The report from TRIP found that poor road conditions are a factor in one-third of all traffic deaths in Iowa.

The complete report is online at tripnet.org.

Richard Alan, Public News Service - IA