Iowa DOT lays out $3.6 billion five-year transportation plan

Iowa DOT lays out $3.6 billion five-year transportation plan

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Stuart Anderson

Stuart Anderson

DES MOINES — State Department of Transportation officials have unveiled a nearly $3.6 billion five-year transportation plan that includes more than $2 billion to modernize Iowa’s highway system.

DOT officials said significant construction cost increases last year forced them to delay some projects and limited funding for new projects.

However, no projects have been axed.

Uncertainty over the effects of the coronavirus pandemic may require revisions if revenue flowing into the state’s road use tax fund declines significantly.

The agency expects fuel tax and vehicle registration fees reported in June will be down 25 percent, said Stuart Anderson, director of the DOT’s planning, programming and modal division.

That would translate into a roughly $35 million drop in revenue split by the state, cities and counties, although DOT officials report traffic volumes have slowly increased since April 10.

“We’re not recommending any immediate revisions to the program just because there’s a lot of uncertainty over what the final impacts will be and how long they will be,” Anderson said in an interview.

“In addition, there has been some discussion in Congress of providing some backfill to state and local governments for lost transportation revenues,” he added.

Anderson said DOT officials are delaying plans to let bids in July for some projects until they have a better fix on revenue prospects.

Members of the Iowa Transportation Commission will take up the plan next month.

According to DOT staff, the proposed five-year program includes more than $1.1 billion for Iowa bridges. The number of bridges in poor condition on the state highway system has been reduced from 256 in 2006 to 39 in 2019, according to the staff report.

“While the number of poor bridges has been decreasing, many bridges are coming due for repair/replacement so increasing investment in bridges continues to be a priority in this program,” according to a DOT news release.

The five-year plan also focuses on maintaining the interstate system.

Among the interstate work in the five-year plan are six-lane improvements on I-35 in Polk and Story counties; replacement of the I-74 Mississippi River bridge in Bettendorf; reconstruction of the I-80/380 Interchange near Iowa City; six-lane I-80 improvements in Dallas and Johnson counties; construction of the I-380/Tower Terrace interchange in Hiawatha; and the system reconstruction in Council Bluffs.

Anderson said the commission remains committed large, multiyear corridor improvement projects that include the Highway 9 Mississippi River Bridge replacement in Lansing; Highway 17 in Boone County north of Highway 30; Highway 18 in Floyd County at the Highway 218 intersection in Floyd; Highway 20 in Dubuque County at Swiss Valley Road; Highway 30 in Harrison County for the Missouri Valley bypass; Highway 30 in Story County from east of I-35 to 590th Avenue; Highway 30 in Tama/Benton counties from the Tama Bypass to the west junction of Highway 218; Highway 61 in Des Moines and Louisa counties from Burlington to Highway 92; Highway 63 in Mahaska County for the Oskaloosa bypass; Highway 69 in Polk County from I-80 to SE 33rd Street in Ankeny; and Highway 218 in Bremer County from Janesville to Waverly.

About 55 percent of the $3.6 billion program is being invested in rural areas over the next five years, Anderson said.

The draft DOT program is posted and available for public comment on the https://iowadot.gov/ program_management/Five-Year-Program.

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