WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Roads Could Take Hit In Iowa Budget

Keokuk, IA – Iowa lawmakers are in for a few busy months. They have to keep the current state budget balanced until June 30 and address a projected shortfall of at least $500-million in next year's state spending plan.

One area that could take a big hit is transportation infrastructure, in particular, maintaining Iowa's rural roads. 255th Street in central Lee County offers an example of that.

Lee County Engineer Ernie Steffensmeier says the narrow gravel road stretches from 180th Street to Croton Road. He says it could cost more than $3.5-million to pave the 6.5 mile stretch.

The county does not have the money to do the work, so the project has remained on the 5-year road construction plan since 2004.

The Department of Transportation is not in a position to help. The agency is dealing with budget cuts, a shortfall in road use tax revenue, and a proposal to use road use tax dollars to pay for the Iowa State Patrol.

A proposal to raise the gasoline tax to generate new revenue faces strong opposition from Governor Chet Culver. His opposition means the issue is probably dead.

You can hear the full report on road funding in Iowa by clicking the audio link above.