The Iowa legislature has voted to require the state’s 99 county engineers to file annual reports explaining how state gas tax money is being used to repair or replace rural bridges.
The move comes a year after the gas tax was raised a dime a gallon. Representative Mary Wolfe, a Democrat from Clinton, says it’s a good way to ensure accountability for the extra tax money.
“That is supposed to be used for fixing deficient bridges and other infrastructure repairs, so this will just, perhaps, give us all an opportunity to make sure that’s what’s happening,” Wolfe says.
Representative Josh Byrnes, a Republican from Osage, was among the chief advocates for raising the gas tax to address problems with the state’s crumbling roads and bridges.
“We promised the people of Iowa that we’d be transparent,” Byrnes says. “…That’s exactly what this bill does.”
County engineers will submit their reports to the Iowa Department of Transportation. Democratic Senator Matt McCoy of Des Moines says the DOT will compile the information and present it to legislators.
“We’ll have a better understand of just what the state of our bridges are,” McCoy says.
The Road Information Program currently rates 22 percent of Iowa’s rural bridges as structurally deficient. Only two other states have a higher percentage of deficient bridges. The reports from county engineers about progress on addressing problem bridges would be required in each of the next three years if the governor signs the bill into law.