Iowa to spend over $1 billion on interstate widening project

Interstate Highway 80 near Mitchellville. | Photo: William Petroski/The Register.Interstate Highway 80 near Mitchellville. | Photo: William Petroski/The Register.

 

The Iowa Department of Transportation is currently working to develop plans to widen over 170 miles of interstate highways. For the state to widen key stretches from four to six lanes, Iowa will have to spend over $1 billion, according to The Des Moines Register.

Although overall traffic volume statewide remains slightly below a peak reached in 2004 at nearly 32 billion miles annually, Iowa Department of Transportation Director Paul Trombino tells The Des Moines Register that traffic is still increasing on some sections of interstate highways, particularly major trucking routes designed decades ago for fewer vehicles.

“We want to look at how the roads handle truck capacity, and we have some safety issues,” Trombino told The Des Moines Register. “We are looking at the map and establishing some bottleneck points where we see recurring delays.”

DOT construction engineers say that the expansion projects will exceed $1 billion, with the reconstruction expense generally in the range of $5 million to $10 million per mile. If Iowa continues to pursue the widening projects, the state will be forced to consider a higher gasoline tax, as well as other sources of additional revenue for highway infrastructure.

According to The Des Moines Register, below are the key traffic corridors likely to be targeted for widening:

  • Interstate Highway 35 between Ankeny and Ames. Traffic volumes vary widely on this stretch of road. But traffic averages about 35,600 vehicles per day in the Huxley area near Iowa Highway 210, which is north of Ankeny and south of Ames.
  • Interstate Highway 80 between Des Moines and Davenport. The stretch between Des Moines and Iowa City averages 29,400 vehicles per day with 31 percent large truck traffic. The section between Iowa City and Davenport/Bettendorf averages 35,100 vehicles per day with 33 percent large truck traffic.
  • Interstate Highway 380 between Iowa City and Cedar Rapids. Traffic averages up to 51,500 vehicles per day in the peak travel area within the corridor.