Monday, November 2, 2015

Official Admits Iowa Needs to Go on a Road Diet

US Highway 218 - IowaThe first step to getting your highway budget back to a sane level is admitting you have a problem. As Charles Marohn reports at, Iowa Dept. of Transportation Director Paul Trombino recently did just that, pointing out Iowa can't afford to maintain all the roads & bridges it's built:
I said the numbers before. 114,000 lane miles, 25,000 bridges, 4,000 miles of rail. I said this a lot in my conversation when we were talking about fuel tax increases. It’s not affordable. Nobody’s going to pay.

We are. We’re the ones. Look in the mirror. We’re not going to pay to rebuild that entire system.

And my personal belief is that the entire system is unneeded. And so the reality is, the system is going to shrink.

There’s nothing I have to do. Bridges close themselves. Roads deteriorate and go away. That’s what happens.

And reality is, for us, let’s not let the system degrade and then we’re left with sorta whatever’s left. Let’s try to make a conscious choice – it’s not going to be perfect, I would agree it’s going to be complex and messy – but let’s figure out which ones we really want to keep.
As Congressional budget negotiators come up with increasingly bizarre tricks to try to pay for a transportation budget that's mostly spent on building new roads, the question remains: What if voters don't want to pay for it?

We should talking about building fewer new, unneeded highways and focusing our resources on maintaining what we have. We know urban roads can lose lanes, with Austin recently showing that many urban roads can be slimmed down while improving safety and cutting speeding.

What can we do about expensive and little-used rural highways? How many could lose a lane and no one would ever miss it?
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