Regional roads in newest 5-year IDOT plans
PERRY — The Iowa Transportation Commission has approved Fiscal Years 2015-2019 Iowa Transportation Improvement Program.
The program documents programmed investments in Iowa’s multimodal transportation system, including aviation, transit, railroads, trails and highways. The commission and the IDOT remain committed to providing modern, safe and efficient transportation services to the public.
A major component of the program is the highway section, which documents programmed investments in the Primary Highway System for the next five years. For FY 2015-2019, approximately $2.7 billion is forecast to be available for highway right of way and construction.
More than $1.2 billion is programmed from FY 2015 through FY 2019 for modernization of Iowa’s existing highway system and for enhanced highway safety features.
The highway section includes significant interstate investments on I-29 in Sioux City, the interstate system in Council Bluffs, and the I-74 Mississippi River bridge replacement in Bettendorf. Portions of these investments address stewardship needs.
Another highway programming objective is developing and constructing capacity and system enhancement projects. The commission was able to add several significant one- or two-year-projects that address safety and condition needs. These projects include U.S. 63 in Wapello County from one mile south of U.S. 34 north to U.S. 34 in Ottumwa; Iowa 98 in Van Buren County from Leando to Iowa 16 with funding provided to Van Buren County to assume jurisdiction of the roadway.
The program includes more than $900 million of investments in Iowa’s state owned bridges continuing the commission’s objective to improve the condition of Iowa’s bridges. Throughout the last five years, the number of structurally deficient bridges on the state highway system has been cut in half, down to 117 as of 2013, as a result of this emphasis.
The commission remains committed to previous highway programming actions by maintaining schedules of almost all large multiyear corridor improvement projects.
Flat or uncertain revenue at the federal and state level, increasing construction costs, and the need to invest in the existing highway system has limited the commission from adding additional large multiyear corridor improvement projects. Without additional revenue at the state and/or federal level, the commission does not anticipate being able to add additional large multiyear corridor projects to the
A large part of funding available for highway programming comes from the federal government. Accurately estimating future federal funding levels is dependent on having a multiyear federal transportation authorization bill. The current authorization, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century, or MAP-21, is set to expire on Sept. 30, resulting in continued federal funding uncertainty after this date.
Another major concern with federal funding is the federal Highway Trust Fund, which is funded primarily from federal fuel taxes, will not be able to provide funding at current levels after August 2014. If this is not corrected, drastic cuts to the federal highway program are anticipated and the commission will have to make significant changes to the Program in FY 2015 and beyond.
Approximately half of the funding available for programming projects in FY 2015 could be affected by this issue. If the need arises for the commission to decide which projects will be rescheduled, they will consider statewide equity, length of time a project has been considered for programming, how many times a project has been rescheduled, purpose of a project, whether the project is already underway, local efforts to move forward on a project, and current conditions and need for a project.
The complete Program is posted on IDOT’s website www.iowadot.gov/program_management/five_year.html.