Iowa seeks to increase road funding at home - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Iowa seeks to increase road funding at home

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DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — As Iowa lawmakers ponder legislation that would raise the fuel tax to help pay for road improvements, data shows the state has seen a decline in federal funding for infrastructure in recent years.

That drop-off has happened as the condition of Iowa's bridges and roads has continued to deteriorate. According to data compiled by The Associated Press, Iowa's share of Federal Highway Trust money was $474.6 million in the 2013 fiscal year, down from $546.5 million in 2009. The state received over $5 billion over the course of 10 years.

Nationally, federal highway dollars dropped about 3.5 percent during the five year period that ended in the 2013 fiscal year. Iowa was in line with the national trend, declining by 3.4 percent during that time.

Iowa Department of Transportation Director Paul Trombino said the state needs additional dollars to meet the needs of a large and aging network of bridges and roads. He expressed optimism that the state would work out a plan to provide more funding, saying, "Reliance on federal dollars is risky."

Lawmakers in the state House and Senate are reviewing bills that would raise the state fuel tax by 10 cents a gallon. That would provide about $215 million annually for the state's network of bridges and roads.

Iowa's fuel tax is now 22 cents per gallon for gasoline, including fees. Diesel fuel has a slightly higher tax and ethanol blends are a bit lower. The tax hasn't been raised since 1989.

Iowa's transportation network includes 114,430 miles of roads and 24,661 bridges, according to DOT figures.

According to a report released by TRIP — a research group funded largely by businesses with interest in transportation — 27 percent of Iowa's urban roads and highways are in poor condition and 21 percent of Iowa's bridges are structurally deficient. The report is based on federal data.

Trombino said addition funding would help, but he noted the state will have to continue to establish manageable infrastructure goals.

"I think what's important for us is figuring out what's affordable. Rebuilding the whole system is not affordable. You want to maintain the system that's in good to fair condition," he said.
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