July 18, 2024

Grassley meets with city of Creston staff

Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley, right, meets with Creston officials Monday in Creston City Council chambers.

City infrastructure highlighted a meeting Republican Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley had Monday morning with some city of Creston employees and other officials.

The stop was part of Grassley’s annual tour of the state’s 99 counties.

Creston City Administrator Mike Taylor asked Grassley about the growing amount of fees related to many municipal improvement projects. “It adds to the cost overall,” he said, referring to Creston’s past of wastewater treatment work.

Grassley said federal funding for eligible projects is based on a formula, one that hasn’t been touched in 30 plus years. He said there have been suggestions to include revenue from the federal fuel tax, but the proposals have not gone any further. Grassley said he voted in favor of the 2021 infrastructure bill, and got some criticism. He said the fuel tax goes back to the 1950s and is intended for use by the states.

According to information from Grassley’s office about the bill, about 29% of Iowa’s major roads are in poor or mediocre condition, resulting in an estimated cost of $336 per year for each motorist, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers. This bill invests $4.2 billion in repairing Iowa’s roads, with the opportunity to compete for additional resources. The bill also includes a new grant program for rural transportation projects.

Iowa leads the nation in the number of structurally deficient bridges. Fixing these bridges means safer roadways for Iowans. This bill guarantees Iowa $431 million for bridge repair, with more competitive grant funding available.

The bill authorizes $227 million over the next five years for Iowa through the existing Clean Water State Revolving Fund program and the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, which have been around for decades. These funds will help Iowa’s years-long efforts to further improve water quality. Creston Waterworks is scheduled to begin a water infrastructure improvement project in the 100, 200 and 300 blocks of North Maple. Grant funding will be used.

Broadband internet is included in the bill. High speed internet has been a part of education, business and health services during the pandemic. This bill provides $65 billion to increase access to broadband services, with a particular focus on unserved and underserved communities, including rural Iowa.

Federal funding for increased or improved internet access may be the issue, he said.

“I was told a cost of $25,000 to $30,0000 per mile,” he said about installation.

But other places had different numbers.

“In Oskaloosa, it was $6,000 a mile. Other places it was $9,000,” he said. “I didn’t understand.”

The speculation is if federal dollars are provided, the prices go up.

In a related not, Grassley said he questioned the accuracy of maps showing underserved areas of internet service in the state.

John Van Nostrand

JOHN VAN NOSTRAND

An Iowa native, John's newspaper career has mostly been in small-town weeklies from the Rocky Mountains to the Mississippi River. He first stint in Creston was from 2002 to 2005.