ROADS/BRIDGES: Iowa bridges get help under state transportation plan

Study last year rated state bridges among worst in nation

June 15, 2016
Study last year rated Iowa bridges among worst in nation

More than a third of the $3.5 billion of the funds that state planners intend to spend on Iowa’s transportation needs in the next five years will be devoted to improving the state’s bridges.

The seven-member Iowa Transportation Commission recently approved a 2017-2021 transportation improvement plan that includes expenditures in aviation, transit, railroads, trails and highways to modernize transportation services while enhancing safety.

Of the total, $1.2 billion is slated for investments in Iowa’s state-owned bridges. All told, the plan calls for $1.6 billion in funding toward work on existing infrastructure, including both bridges and highways.

The five-year plan includes a $36.5 million investment in non-interstate bridges for fiscal year 2017. That number increases annually up to $55 million in 2021.

According to a 2015 National Bridge Inventory report released earlier this year, Iowa’s bridges are in bad shape. The report, which used Federal Highway Administration data, found that Iowa ranks worst in the nation for the total number of bridges considered deficient, and third worst for the percentage of deficient bridges in a state’s overall inventory. Of Iowa’s 24,242 bridges, 5,025 of them are considered structurally deficient, according to the report.

The five-year plan also contains a number of high-profile projects in the Corridor that previously had been announced and were expected to be approved in the final draft—including a new Interstate 380 interchange at Forevergreen Road in North Liberty; a massive overhaul of the Interstate 380/Interstate 80 interchange; an extension to Highway 100 around Cedar Rapids; and a new Mount Vernon/Lisbon bypass on Highway 30.

A combination of gas tax proceeds, vehicle registration fees and disbursements from the federal transportation budget pays for the plan.