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Iowa's renewable energy and infrastructure impacts : final report
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Iowa's renewable energy and infrastructure impacts : final report
  • Publication/ Report Number:
    IHRB Project TR-593 ; InTrans Project 08-334 ;
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  • Abstract:
    The federal government is aggressively promoting biofuels as an answer to global climate change and dependence on imported sources

    of energy. Iowa has quickly become a leader in the bioeconomy and wind energy production, but meeting the United States Department

    of Energy’s goal having 20% of U.S. transportation fuels come from biologically based sources by 2030 will require a dramatic

    increase in ethanol and biodiesel production and distribution. At the same time, much of Iowa’s rural transportation infrastructure is

    near or beyond its original design life. As Iowa’s rural roadway structures, pavements, and unpaved roadways become structurally

    deficient or functionally obsolete, public sector maintenance and rehabilitation costs rapidly increase. More importantly, costs to move

    all farm products will rapidly increase if infrastructure components are allowed to fail; longer hauls, slower turnaround times, and

    smaller loads result. When these results occur on a large scale, Iowa will start to lose its economic competitive edge in the rapidly

    developing bioeconomy.

    The primary objective of this study was to document the current physical and fiscal impacts of Iowa’s existing biofuels and wind power

    industries. A four-county cluster in north-central Iowa and a two-county cluster in southeast Iowa were identified through a local

    agency survey as having a large number of diverse facilities and were selected for the traffic and physical impact analysis. The research

    team investigated the large truck traffic patterns on Iowa’s secondary and local roads from 2002 to 2008 and associated those with the

    pavement condition and county maintenance expenditures. The impacts were quantified to the extent possible and visualized using

    geographic information system (GIS) tools. In addition, a traffic and fiscal assessment tool was developed to understand the impact of

    the development of the biofuels on Iowa’s secondary road system.

    Recommended changes in public policies relating to the local government and to the administration of those policies included

    standardizing the reporting and format of all county expenditures, conducting regular pavement evaluations on a county’s system,

    cooperating and communicating with cities (adjacent to a plant site), considering utilization of tax increment financing (TIF) districts as

    a short-term tool to produce revenues, and considering alternative ways to tax the industry.

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