The old saying credited to Ben Franklin goes that if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. As many of you know, we’re not short on planning around the Iowa DOT, but most of those plans are fairly specific related to a highway corridor, transportation mode, or focus area.
An example would be the development of the I-80 Planning and Environmental Linkages (PEL) reports led by the Office of Location and Environment (https://iowadot.gov/interstatestudy). Those reports lay out a compelling case for the need to invest in the rural sections of I-80, and a vision for the future. They form a critical underpinning of our next steps, which is to take that vision and start to plan specific projects and timeframes.
An upcoming planning effort will get underway Aug. 21-22 at Reiman Gardens in Ames with a goal of looking at Iowa’s interstate system as a whole. Matt Haubrich from the Strategic Performance Division and Deanna Maifield from the Highway Division are leading this effort.
Maifield said, “We have invited 60 DOTers from different disciplines across the agency to participate. Our goal at the end of the day is to create a document that will serve as a first step in putting together a comprehensive plan for all Iowa interstates.”
To get started, workshop participants will work through various exercises to review current and forecast condition, mobility needs, funding available, and design alternatives. Results from this workshop will be a series of preliminary project concepts that can be developed and programmed, as well as a documented set of assumptions that can be monitored as the plan is implemented. Ultimately, the plan will go to the Iowa Transportation Commission to help guide them during the approval process of recommended projects in the future.
The effort to develop an action plan for the Interstate network will be called the Iowa Interstate Investment Plan for 2040, or the I3P-2040. There have been several previous interstate plan efforts that have put forward design alternatives, however, the funding hasn’t been available to execute those ideas. What makes the I3P-2040 different is that it will consider the projected available funding from the start, and look for options to meet all competing needs across the entire interstate system. By seeking timing options for expansion projects and cost-saving alternatives, we will have a plan that can be programmed and executed.