Iowa Roads in Need of Significant Improvement Based on New Study, Construction Underway

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AMES, Iowa — Drive around the state and you’ll see construction crews all over the place trying to improve Iowa’s roads, and according to a new study, they need it.

The Reason Foundation’s annual highway report ranked Iowa roads 40th overall, 48th in rural arterial pavement condition, 46th in urban pavement condition, and 37th in rural interstate condition.

The study’s most recent data comes from 2013, and the Iowa DOT says a lot has changed since then, most notably the 10 cent gas tax that went into effect last year.

“This additional revenue is being put into the system as we speak. This year is a record construction year for the state and for local governments which as we talked about will directly impact conditions. So I can tell you we’re going to see improvements in the state,” said Iowa DOT Director of Planning Stuart Anderson.

The tax will pump around $210 million into Iowa’s roads. The DOT says local governments get a large portion of that funding and will use it to improve rural roads and bridges.

The DOT warns not to expect for our rankings to increase overnight.

“It takes a while to develop projects, to get the projects constructed and then when you look at how much you can impact pavement conditions or bridge conditions in one year even with a fuel tax increase you’re not hitting a large portion. It takes time to see trends and how those investment decisions play out,” said Anderson.

Local tax watchdog group, Iowans for Tax Relief, are paying attention to the results of those decisions.

“If the money that was taken from Iowans, if Iowans gave it they didn’t have a choice, gave the money to the government we’d expect them to use it wisely,” said the group’s political director Ernie Adkison.

Adkison says his group is upset because the early gas tax state projects have gone towards expansion projects like the ones on Highway 20 rather than pavement improvements.

However, the DOT says that their five-year plan includes more state level improvements, and that city and county governments are in charge of their own improvement projects.

To read the full report, click here.

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