Union workers and volunteers with MoveOn.org staged a rally in Des Moines today to call attention to needed repairs to Iowa’s roads and bridges.
Earl Agan, president of the Central Iowa Building Construction Trades Council, recalled his high school education as he criticized Governor Terry Branstad’s call for waiting at least a year on consideration of raising the state gas tax to fund road and bridge repairs.
“The teachers taught us that these highways, bridges and roads in the United State are the lifeblood of capitalism. So now we’re in a recession and the governor decides were going to cut back on the lifeblood of capitalism. It doesn’t make a whole Hell of a lot of sense to me,” Agan said.
A commission Branstad appointed has recommended raising the gas tax by 8 to 10 cents. The governor said this week he’d prefer the Iowa Department of Transportation find efficiencies that would save about $50 million.
Wilbur Wilson, a retired Bridgestone-Firestone worker, said fixing the state’s roads and bridges would improve Iowan’s safety and create thousands of jobs. He noted a single bridge provides jobs for gravel companies, concrete companies, iron workers, carpenters and others.
The rally was staged alongside a recently rebuilt bridge over Interstate 235. Last month, the group Transportation for America released a report that ranked Iowa third for having the worst bridges in the country. The report shows nearly 22% of Iowa’s bridges are considered “deficient.”