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DOT Funding in Jeopardy

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS 2/FOX 28) -- The future of Iowas funding for interstates and bridges could be in limbo. The Federal Department of Transportation says federal funds are running out, and unless action is taken soon - the impact could trickle down to the state level.

Future Projects such as the highway100 extension or the 80-380 interchange could be delayed indefinitely until the issue with funding is fixed, says Cathy Cutler with the Iowa Department of Transportation.

The federal DOT says a sluggish economy is cutting into their budget.

There's been more and more demand, costs are going up, but the source of funding hasn't kept up with inflation or the economic needs out there, Cutler says.

One big source of that funding is gas taxes. However, the rise of fuel efficient vehicles has cut into that. Consumers are saving more on gas - but cutting into revenue for roads.

With funds dwindling over the past few years, Congress has been stepping in to supplement the funding, but a lack of action so far this year has many bracing for impact.

We have been warned that a slowdown in federal funds for our highways is coming. says Senator Rob Hogg

Hogg says right now, there's enough to fund projects that have already started. With the loss of federal funding though, come next year, I-DOT may lose half its budget. It also means projects on the city and county level will suffer as well.

Many say increasing the state gas tax would offset the federal loss - but it's not that easy. Hogg says traditionally, that move isn't made without deeply bipartisan support.

Senate Democrats, Senate Republicans, House Democrats, House Republicans - not all four of them are willing to agree to do that, Hogg says.

Hogg says the gas tax is constitutionally mandated to go towards roads - and therefore, the most stable funding source. He says others may be starting to see that.

People kinda understand 'Yeah, I don't like it, but maybe it's time to do it.

The current gas tax proposal in the legislature would amount to an extra $40 to $60 a year for drivers. Governor Branstad has gone on record saying he doubts it will get done, but Hogg says there's still a chance itll get passed
 
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