Increased gas tax revenue is expected to annually generate six-figure income to fund road repairs in local counties.

In one county, the estimated $450,000 to $500,000 each year couldn't come at a better time.

A tax increment financing (TIF) district for a wind turbine project previously generated additional money for Floyd County roadwork, but Board of Supervisor Chairman Roy Schwickerath said remaining dollars were spent last year.

While Schwickerath thinks the county's infrastructure is generally in good shape, budgets and secondary road funds continue to shrink.

With a $1.5 million repair tag, a bridge spanning the Little Cedar River had to be shut down last year. More closures within a 5-mile radius could follow in the next decade if funds aren't available, inconveniencing area residents.

"With this gas tax, we should be able to keep up a little better," Schwickerath said. "I don't think it's a solve-all, but it should help us."

Cerro Gordo County could receive close to $570,000.

A top priority is resurfacing certain highways, a project county engineer Mary Kelly says is pricey.

"There's roadwork that needs to be done, but we just haven't had enough money to do everything," Kelly explained.

Members of the Mitchell County Board of Supervisors said the fuel tax hike is estimated to bring in an additional $400,000 to $600,000 each year.

Chairwoman Shannon Paulus said her board is looking on the passage "with gratitude."

"We are already looking at projects that we can do; we're trying to be proactive," she said.

"At today's costs, this equates into an additional three miles of overlay whitetopping (cement over blacktop) annually or it can replace many small dysfunctional bridges annually," said Supervisor Stan Walk.

Paulus said Mitchell County is actually in better shape than most since the county some years ago established a TIF district when wind turbine projects were established, similar to what was done in Floyd County.

Those revenues have been devoted to roads.

Winnebago County is anticipating an additional $350,000.

County engineer Scott Meinders said that will allow catch-up on repair of aging bridges. The county previously only repaired one to two bridges a year, according to Meinders.

Hancock County Engineer Bill Waddingham says the increase has been much needed.

"It'll increase the amount of construction we can do," he explained. "We have had to hold back on some bridge projects and resurfacing because of lack of funds."

— Ashley Miller, Deb Nicklay and Sam Jefson


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