The chairman of the Senate Transportation committee wants the Iowa Legislature to consider rescinding 70 million dollars approved for road and bridge construction last year. Senator Matt McCoy, a Democrat from Des Moines, says the state is awash in federal stimulus money, which he speculates could be driving up construction costs.
He says postponing state spending on road projects may give taxpayers a bigger bang for their buck. There’s so much work being done and it doesn’t look like there’s as much value generated today as a result of it because there is so much work and so this might not be the time to invest that other $70 million,” McCoy says.
“We might wait a year. We might wait two years.” According to McCoy, the money initially approved for road and bridge repair may be better spent elsewhere.
“Is the Iowa taxpayer getting savings or are we better off holding some of this money back, pulling it off the table, redirecting it to vertical infrastructure, for Cedar Rapids, for areas that have had flood devastation and need to rebuild?” McCoy asks. But Iowa Department of Transportation director Nancy Richardson says national concerns about inflated construction costs did not materialize in Iowa.
“We, in Iowa, are not seeing increased prices,” Richardson says. “They’re coming in at or below what we’ve been projecting for these projects.” Richardson says the state is in the process of signing contracts for bridge work and hopes to complete at least 50 projects. The State of Iowa received over $400 million in federal stimulus money for road construction.
Legislators and the governor set aside another 100 million for road projects in the I-JOBS program.