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Grassley Discusses DOT Funding

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS 2, FOX 28) -- The clock is ticking, and Senator Chuck Grassley is among those in Washington searching for a solution.

"The road fund on the federal level is going to run out in June or July," Grassley says.

The $46 billion highway trust fund is allocated to the states for construction projects.  $450 million of that was set to come to Iowa.

The Department of Transportation, however, says a tough economy and lower gas tax revenues have eroded those funds. Grassley, a member of the finance committee, will be one of several overseeing the process of deciding the trust fund's future.

"We aren't going to make that decision until the transportation committee decides what the policy will be," Grassley says.

The senator says he sees three options - continuing the funding at current levels for one year, extending the funding for 6 months until they're able to arrive at a long term plan, or developing a brand new 5 to 6 year plan.

He sees the latter option is the least likely.

"To get that done between now and the time the last dollar runs out of the trust fund, I don't think that's real," Grassley says.

Despite the gridlock in Washington, things here in Cedar Rapids look to be right on track.

"We've got I-380 being resurfaced, the I-380 bridges are set to be repainted, and Highway 100 is starting," says Robert Davis, an engineering manager with the City of Cedar Rapids.

Davis says the DOT hasn't told them about any imminent delays locally. That includes construction on First Avenue.

As work continued there on a rainy Wednesday afternoon, Davis says even if the idea of a delay comes up, the nature of projects like this may give the city an advantage.

"We got a gas main and sewers being relocated, once you tear it up, you've got to finish it." Davis says. "We would not be real good candidates for a delay because it delays so many other things that are going at the same schedule."
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