Iowa approves $3.4B infrastructure plan
- The Iowa Transportation Commission, according to an Iowa Department of Transportation news release, approved a $3.4 billion infrastructure program for 2019-2023 that includes airport, transit, railroad, trail and highway projects.
- The Iowa Transportation Improvement Program will see 55% of funds invested in rural areas, more than $1 billion set aside for bridge investment and $1.8 billion spent on highway modernization and enhanced safety features. The program will also invest in increasing capacity along freight and other corridors. Transportation officials estimate that the program will break down as follows: pavement (45%), structures (31%), grading (18%), right of way (1%) and 5% of other work such as erosion control, signs and lighting.
- The program is receiving significant funding help through the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, but that law expires in September 2020, the third year of Iowa's transportation improvement plan. This, according to program officials, creates uncertainty about future funding. Some projects are funded by the 47.5% of gas tax revenue allocated to the state.
While Congress has indicated that it is committed to continued federal funding of state and regional transportation infrastructure projects, President Donald Trump's administration is in favor of giving preference to states and other lead transportation agencies that can cobble together the majority of financing themselves. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, federal dollars should constitute supplemental funding for state and regional projects, not the majority of it. State budgets allocate money for transportation projects, but officials have started to turn to the private sector to get their projects done faster and without the normal financing headaches.
Still, the United States Department of Transportation recently announced $2.1 billion of grants this month – nearly $1.5 billion for possible discretionary grants through the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) program and $677 million through the Federal Aviation Administration's Airport Improvement Program (AIP). This is the first round of allocations of the $3.1 billion AIP program. The FAA provides money for critical airport infrastructure projects like runways and lighting, but the major terminal overhauls are usually up to the airports to finance themselves.
Aside from engaging private partners to help with raising the necessary money, airports typically use operating revenues and proceeds from the $4.50 per flight Passenger Facility Charge. Airport advocates have been lobbying Congress to lift the cap on the charge to help pay for projects that will increase capacity and aid in modernization efforts, but so far, federal lawmakers have refused.
- The Gazette State commission approves five-year road and infrastructure plan
- Iowa Department of Transportation FY 2019-2023 Iowa Transportation Improvement Program approved by the Iowa Transportation Commission
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