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Letter to the editor

Grundy County Farm Bureau President

September 10, 2011
Reinbeck Courier

Dear Editor:

Governor Branstad's Transportation 2020 Citizen Advisory Commission has invited Iowans to weigh in on the state's current and future road funding priorities. The Commission will incorporate these public comments into the Iowa Department of Transportation's (DOT) five-year transportation funding plan, which will be shared with the state legislature in 2012.

As Farm Bureau members we urge farmers to participate in the upcomingpublic input meeting to be held in Waterloo on Wednesday, September 14,in Room 23 at theRamada Hotel Convention Center located at205 West Fourth Street. The meeting is from 6:00-8:00 PM.

We need to shareour thoughts about farm-to-market road conditions inour local communities and stress the importance of increasing funding for rural roads and bridges.

Iowa is significantly underfunding its rural roads and bridges, and that lack of investment is being felt by farmers, like me, and our rural communities. The IDOT has reported that Iowa needs an additional $215 million per year over the next 20 years to meet critical roadway repair needs. More than one out of every five Iowa bridges is considered "structurally deficient," which is third worst in the nation and almost double the national average. The vast majority of these bridges are maintained by counties, many of them in rural areas.

Increasing Iowa's fuel tax is the best way to meet our roadway funding needs. The fuel tax allows those who use our roads to pay for them. It also allows us to pay for road repairs and construction as we go, rather than saddling ourselves with debt to pay for these projects. Now is the right time to raise the state's fuel tax. Iowa's fuel tax hasn't risen since 1989. In the meantime, construction costs have skyrocketed. A dollar spent on construction today goes about half as far as it did in 1993. We're due for an increase to help pay for these increased costs and the maintenance we've neglected to fund in the past. Currently, out-of-state drivers account for roughly one out of every five cars on Iowa's roads. Increasing the fuel tax is a way for out-of-state drivers to pay their fair share for roadway repair and maintenance.

Farmers who are not able to attend the open forum should go provide their thoughts electronically to the commission by going to the website:

It is important for the rural community to participate in this importantstate transportation planning opportunity.


Jesse Willis

Grundy County Farm Bureau President



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