A commission established by Governor Branstad is hearing from Iowans who are interested in raising the state’s gas tax to finance improvements to Iowa’s roads and bridges.

Stuart Anderson, with the Iowa Department of Transportation, says the Governor’s Transportation 2020 Citizens Advisory Commission has held three public input meetings this month in Bettendorf, Mason City and Des Moines. Commissioners have learned many Iowans are concerned about the conditions of the state’s rural roads.

Anderson says farmers have talked about lengthy detours they take because of weight restrictions on bridges. School officials have also raised concerns about the safety of rural roads. Iowa’s motor fuel tax, which has remained unchanged since 1989, raises about $1.2-billion  a year.

Anderson says commissioners have been asking people attending the public meetings about their thoughts on increasing the gas tax. “They’ve heard a lot of feedback that, yeah, they feel that’s a possibility,” Anderson said. “One thing that’s pretty consistent is…if funding is increased, it ought to be from funding sources dedicated to roads and bridge improvements.” He notes the state constitution requires 95% of the money raised by the gas tax must be directed toward road construction.

The commission will hold four more public input meetings, over the next four Wednesday nights, in Storm Lake, Council Bluffs, Waterloo and Mount Pleasant. “This is the mission of the commission to hear from the public, so we really hope a lot of people turn up at these meetings,” Anderson said. The commission is expected to complete a report outlining ideas for improving the state’s roads for consideration by the 2012 Iowa Legislature.