Governor Kim Reynolds is giving a thumbs down to the idea of charging motorists traveling on Interstate 80 a fee.
“I don’t think Iowans are interested in tolls,” Reynolds said. “I have no interest in tolls.”
Making Interstate 80 a toll road was listed by Iowa DOT officials as an option for financing expansion of the route. Representative Gary Carlson, a Republican from Muscatine, says as the DOT begins planning for the future, officials are “trying not to shut off any ideas.”
“So those types of things get brought up in those discussions,” he says, “but in the particular idea of putting a toll road on Interstate 80, I just don’t see that happening in my lifetime.”
Carlson, who is chairman of the House Transportation Committee, says due to congestion on Interstate 80, expanding the corridor from four-lanes to six-lanes through eastern Iowa is a “very real possibility.” But Carlson says using traffic tolls as collateral for loans to finance road construction isn’t working well in other states.
“Iowa’s road system has really been based on pay-as-you-go,” Carlson says. “I think that has been prudent and I don’t see really any directional change from that.”
Senator Tod Bowman of Maquoketa, the top-ranking Democrat on the Senate Transportation Committee, says placing toll booths along Interstate 80 is a non-starter in the legislature.
“I haven’t heard from any of my constituents that want that and so I’m not going to be supportive of it,” Bowman says. “And I don’t believe the DOT should be going in that direction.”
Bowman says legislators might revisit the issue in the future if vehicles get so sophisticated that a toll could be charged automatically — but only to the out-of-state vehicles traveling through Iowa.