Iowa releases report on transportation challenges

A national transportation research group said Iowa must improve its infrastructure -- including its roads, bridges and highways -- if it's to retain businesses, encourage future economic growth and keep its residents safe. 

To overhaul its infrastructure, Iowa must secure more funding from the local, state and federal level, according to a newly released TRIP report.

Bridges are one of Iowa’s biggest concerns. TRIP researchers found that 21 percent of Iowa's locally and state-maintained bridges are structurally deficient, which means they exhibit major deterioration of their primary components. The state is second to only Pennsylvania in the number of structurally deficient bridges, according to the report. 

Deteriorating pavement conditions was also cited by TRIP as a major issue on Iowa's roadways. The report found that poor road conditions cost Iowans $935 million each year in vehicle repairs, depreciation, tire wear and increased fuel consumption. 

TRIP said the poor conditions of roads is partly to blame for the 1,803 traffic fatalities reported in the state between 2009 and 2013. The report recommends improvements to traffic flow to lessen congestion and lower the number of traffic deaths in the future. 

Hampering infrastructure improvements, though, is inadequate funding. Currently, the state is facing a $215 million transportation funding shortfall, the Iowa Department of Transportation reported; and the federal government's Highway Trust Fund contains only enough money to preserve existing levels of transportation infrastructure through May. 

Driving on deficient roads is costing Iowa drivers approximately $2 billion annually in vehicle operating costs, TRIP reported.

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