The Iowa Transportation Commission approved the Fiscal Year 2021-2025 Iowa Transportation Improvement Program at its meeting on June 9. The program documents investments in Iowa's multimodal transportation system covering aviation, public transit, railroads, trails and highways. The Commission and the Iowa DOT remain committed to providing modern, safe and efficient transportation services to the public.
The program is posted on the Iowa DOT's website iowadot.gov/program_management/Five-Year-Program.
A major component of the program is the highway section that documents planned investments in the Primary Highway System for the next five years. For FY 2021-2025, approximately $3.6 billion is forecast to be available for highway right of way and construction. The Commission continues to maintain a balance between rural and urban investment with approximately 55 percent of the $3.6 billion program being invested in rural areas.
As a result of significant across-the-board construction cost increases in calendar year 2019, cost estimates were revised for many projects in the program. This limited the funding available for new projects to be added to the program and a few projects were delayed by one year from the schedule identified in the 2020-2024 program. However, no projects were removed from last year's program.
State road funding is anticipated to drop over the next several months due to travel and vehicle sales reductions as a result of COVID-19 impacts. Without knowing the ultimate impacts on state road funding and potential mitigating factors, this draft Program is based on pre-COVID-19 state funding forecasts. The Commission may adjust the program when more is learned about state and federal funding impacts.
The highway section was developed to achieve several objectives. The Commission's primary investment objective remains stewardship, including safety, maintenance and modernization of Iowa's existing highway system. More than $2.0 billion is programmed from FY 2021 through FY 2025 for the modernization of Iowa's existing highway system and for enhanced highway safety features.
The program includes more than $1.1 billion of investments in Iowa's state-owned bridges. Over the last few years, the number of structurally deficient bridges on the state highway system has been reduced from 256 in 2006 to 39 in 2019 as a result of the Commission's emphasis to improve the condition of Iowa's bridges.
The Commission and Iowa DOT continue to recognize the importance of maintaining an effective and reliable interstate system. The interstate system connects all transportation systems in Iowa and facilitates the efficient movement of freight within, to/from, and through Iowa. The highway section of the program includes significant interstate investments for six-lane improvements on I-35 in Polk and Story counties; I-74 Mississippi River Bridge replacement in Bettendorf; I-80/380 Interchange reconstruction near Iowa City; six-lane improvements on I-80 in Dallas and Johnson counties; I-80 Mississippi River Bridge replacement in Scott County; I-380/Tower Terrace interchange construction in Hiawatha; and the interstate system reconstruction in Council Bluffs.
Along with these important interstate projects, the Commission remains committed to previous programming actions by continuing to include important non-interstate projects including Iowa 9 Mississippi River Bridge replacement in Lansing; U.S. 30 in Harrison, Story, Tama and Benton counties; U.S. 52 in Dubuque County; U.S. 61 in Des Moines and Louisa counties; U.S. 63 Oskaloosa Bypass in Mahaska County; and U.S. 218 in Bremer County. Portions of these investments address stewardship needs.
Additional System Enhancement Projects
Despite limited funding availability, the Commission was able to add several significant projects that address safety and operational needs. This includes reconstruction of Iowa 2 in Fremont County from the Missouri River overflow bridges to Horse Creek bridges. This project will elevate the roadway to reduce closures during flooding events. This project will be supported with federal emergency relief funding. Other projects added include Super-2 improvements on U.S. 18 in Hancock County and U.S. 30 in Cedar County.
A large part of funding available for highway programming comes from the federal government. Accurately estimating future federal funding levels requires a multiyear federal transportation authorization bill. The current authorization bill, Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, was signed into law Dec. 4, 2015. However, it will expire Sept. 30, 2020, resulting in significant uncertainty about federal funding after this date.