Letter to the Editor:
There is much to love about living in rural Iowa; the space, the tight-knit communities and schools. But we are lacking in one very critical area; bridge safety.
Did you know 59 bridges in my county are a danger to cross because of structural issues? Tama County was short over $1 million for road and bridge projects for 2011, and will need an additional $6,300,000 over the next 5 years to repair and replace the most critical bridges. Unfortunately, Tama County isn't the only county in Iowa facing serious road safety problems.
According to the Department of Transportation, one out of every five bridges in Iowa has structural issues. That makes our roads the third-worst in the nation! Maybe you don't see it if you only travel on metro roads, but these are problems which affect each and every driver who lives in our state, visits our state and buys products that have to cross our roads. (Visit www.iowafarmbureau.com/infrastructure for information on your county.)
The primary means of funding our roads comes from fuel taxes. The last time Iowa raised the fuel tax was in 1989. At that time the average price of a gallon of gasoline was $1.12 compared to $3.45 today. You can imagine how the costs of road maintenance and repair have increased over the same 23 year period. Experts say we need $215 million to fix our critical infrastructure needs and with construction costs going up, that number will only grow, not shrink. For too long we have been taking our transportation infrastructure for granted, and now the time has come to do what is necessary to address the safety and reliability of our roads and bridges.
I don't have all the answers as to how we go about resolving this problem, but I do know that time is no longer on our side. Our bridges and roads are deteriorating by the day and all options must be explored in order to ensure the safety of transportation in rural Iowa.