County Engineer Hopes D.C. is More Than Just Talk on Infrastructure Spending

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  Talk of infrastructure spending may be the one thing that can bridge the gap between democrats and the Trump Administration.

It's no secret Iowa’s bridges are in need of more than just a face lift. A report from the American Road and Transportation Builder's Association revealed Iowa has the worst bridges in the country.

In his address to congress President Trump asked them to pass a trillion-dollar spending bill to aid in the repair of the nation’s infrastructure.  That address came the same day Senate Democrats revealed their own trillion-dollar plan.

Polk County engineer Kurt Bailey says infrastructure spending benefits more than just your daily commute.

“There is a return on investment because you're creating jobs or adding more work for the construction trade and that branches off into economic development, so I think everybody agrees those are things we need to put investment in, but finding those funds is obviously the struggle” said Bailey.

That's why Iowa motorists see bridges like the one on NE 46th just south of Mitchellville.  Polk County was awarded the money to replace the nearly 100-year-old bridge in 2015, but won’t actually get their hands on the money until 2018. That’s the story for many of these bridges, and every day that goes by puts them under more stress.

“The concrete is crumbling. We try to patch it the best we can but when you're talking about the kind of loads that go across these bridges preventive maintenance can only...they're only so strong you can’t really increase the strength at this point” said Bailey.

Bailey says a trillion-dollar infrastructure plan would be more than welcome.

“I think it would be significant. We have a backlog of brides that need to get replaced” said Bailey.

The report from the ARTBA says “of the 24,184 bridges in Iowa, 4,968, or 21%, are classified as structurally deficient".

Ethan Kumbera lives near construction on the 66th Avenue Bridge outside of Johnston. He hopes that we'll see more projects like that one.

“It's one of those things that we don't really want to spend money on, if we don't it's just going to hurt us in the long run. I feel like that's one of the things coming out that I think people will agree with” said Kumbera.

The cost to replace the NE 46th bridge is just over a million dollars.