U.S. Hwy 30 near Nevada. (DOT camera photo)

The Iowa Transportation Commission is considering delaying some projects in its five-year construction plan as inflation and other factors impact the costs of building and maintaining state roadways.

The DOT’s Stuart Anderson says they’ve been analyzing a lot of data as they prepare the plan for a June vote. “Not surprisingly, the inflationary pressures have hit the road and bridge construction industry, just like they have all sectors. So we are seeing our project cost estimates increase,” Anderson says.

He says the cost increases come as state and federal revenue is relatively flat. “Last year, with a five-year program, there was additional revenue from the federal infrastructure bill, but all that money was programmed last June. So this new program, there’s no additional revenue,” Anderson says. “So with increasing costs and flat revenue. That means the commission has had to look at some different options for how to deliver a fiscally-constrained five-year program.”

Higher gas prices can lead to less driving and less gas tax revenue for road repairs — but Anderson says the impact of high fuel prices on construction costs is a bigger issue. “Building a roadway or bridge requires moving dirt and a lot of heavy equipment that uses fuel. And, of course, some of our road construction materials involve involves petroleum products,” Anderson says. “That can certainly have an impact on our construction costs as well.”

I-480 construction . (DOT camera photo)

Anderson says they’ve looked at ways to adjust while keeping the Transportation Commission’s priority for the repair and rehabilitation of existing infrastructure.

“And so the Commission asked the department to look at options to make sure those investments aren’t reduced, and those projects aren’t impacted,” he says. “But then see if there are other projects that are more related to capacity or system enhancement, to see if there’s some projects there that could perhaps be delayed, but in a way that minimizes those impacts on ultimate construction schedules.”

He says the DOT presented the Commission with some options. “And about a dozen projects would be delayed by a year in the program. And that’s out of over 600 projects. So program can be balanced with a pretty minimal impact on project schedules,” he says.

The DOT will release its draft five-year improvement plan in May, and then the Transportation Commission will vote on the final plan in June.

Radio Iowa