ROADS/BRIDGES: State attorney says Iowa DOT handled $9.5M expansion of roadside assistance program appropriately

Sept. 10, 2015

Spending on the roadside assistance program does not require approval by the transportation commission, says general council for the Iowa DOT. 

A staff attorney told the Iowa Transportation Committee that the Iowa Department of Transportation was justified in spending $9.5 million to expand its roadside assistance program without notifying the commission.

Lawmakers questioned commission members about spending $9.5 to expand “Highway Helper” shortly after passing a 10-cent-per-gal gas tax increase. Commission members said they had no knowledge of the expense and therefore had no way to defend it. The commission and the DOT make some joint decisions and independent ones.

Iowa Code does not require external approval for expenses, even in  the million-dollar range, when it comes to regulating the highway system, said David Gorham, general counsel for the Iowa DOT.

“When you look in terms of the planning/policy function of the commission, relating primarily to construction, maintenance and improvement, the Highway Helper does not fall within that category,” Gorham said.

The Iowa DOT is charged with maintaining the road system, especially in regards to safety initiatives. This puts the Highway Helper program, which was being expanded to Cedar Rapids, Council Bluffs and Des Moines, within the agency’s internal discretion, Gorham said.

Sponsored Recommendations

The Science Behind Sustainable Concrete Sealing Solutions

Extend the lifespan and durability of any concrete. PoreShield is a USDA BioPreferred product and is approved for residential, commercial, and industrial use. It works great above...

Powerful Concrete Protection For ANY Application

PoreShield protects concrete surfaces from water, deicing salts, oil and grease stains, and weather extremes. It's just as effective on major interstates as it is on backyard ...

Concrete Protection That’s Easy on the Environment and Tough to Beat

PoreShield's concrete penetration capabilities go just as deep as our American roots. PoreShield is a plant-based, eco-friendly alternative to solvent-based concrete sealers.

Proven Concrete Protection That’s Safe & Sustainable

Real-life DOT field tests and university researchers have found that PoreShieldTM lasts for 10+ years and extends the life of concrete.