Governor Terry Branstad announced a citizen advisory committee that he says will help the Iowa Department of Transportation  assess the condition of the state’s roadway system while “evaluating the current and future funding available to best address system needs.” Branstad visited the D.O.T. commission’s meeting in Ames Tuesday to make the announcement.

Branstad says there is a “need to engage the general public in this” and he assured the commissioners that they are the policymakers. and he says this citizen commission would in no way change that. But Branstad said he wants to see more public input in the process.

He says bringing in people from all walks of life from transportation to other kinds of business will hopefully “help us build a consensus on the transportation needs of Iowa.”

The citizen commission will be co-chaired by the D.O.T director Nancy Richardson, and former Iowa Utility Board chairman Allan Thoms of Cedar Rapids. The D.O.T. is required by law to submit a report very five years on the level of the road use tax fund and the ability of the revenues to meet the state needs for construction and maintenance.

The citizen commission will help provide input for that report, which is due on December 31 of this year. Branstad said it’s going to take “all of us working together” to be successful in achieving the ambitious goal of having the kind of transportation network that can facilitate the growth in jobs they want to have in Iowa’s future.

Some other members of the citizen commission include: Catherine Dunn of Dubuque who was the first woman to chair the D.O.T. commission; former democrat state representative, Geri Huser of Altoona; Jim Kersten for state senator and former legislative liaison for Branstad from Fort Dodge; Ann Trimble Ray of Early who works public relations for Congressman Steve King; Dan Wiedemeier of Burlington another former chair of the D.O.T. commission and Rose Mitchell, a vice president for the Hy-Vee supermarket chain.

In action by the transportation commission Tuesday, they approved an amended grant application submitted from the city of Johnston. An additional $1,380,000 was approved for a total award of up to $6,330,000 to build access for the Pioneer Hi-Bred International’s proposed expansion site.

The award is based on the expansion creating an additional 138 new jobs for a total of 633 new jobs at the facility. The company will increase its capital investment by $147-million for the project for a total of more than $316 million.