Des Moines Regsiter– The Iowa Transportation Commission today approved a $2.6 billion program for repairing and upgrading the state’s highway system over the next five years.
The commission, which serves as the policy-making arm of the Iowa Department of Transportation, established the plan for the budget years from 2013 through 2017. Officials said their main objective is to modernize the state’s primary highway system.
The plan includes urban reconstruction projects on interstate highways in Sioux City, Council Bluffs and the Quad Cities, plus construction work on dozens of other highways statewide.
In the Des Moines area, money is provided to finish widening Interstate Highway 35 in West Des Moines from four lanes to six lanes, to construct new rest areas on I-35 north of Ankeny, and to reconstruct the Interstate Highway 80/U.S. Highway 65 interchange at Altoona.
In addition, the plan calls for constructing an auxiliary lane on westbound Interstate Highway 235 between 63rd and 73rd Streets in Windsor Heights to accommodate heavy traffic during peak travel times.
The highway program is financed by a mix of state and federal money. DOT officials have repeatedly pleaded for extra state revenue, saying the state is falling short by about $215 million annually to address its most critical needs. However, the Iowa Legislature has balked at proposals to raise Iowa’s gasoline tax to generate additional revenue.
The commission met today in Des Moines, where it conducted a regional hearing on transportation issues after spending Monday touring transportation projects in central Iowa.