Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Alliant Energy Boss: Four-laning U.S. 30 Across Iowa 'Right Answer,' U.S. 20 Project 'No Justification'

Tom Aller says 'no justification for four-laning Highway 20'

The president of Interstate Power & Light, the former chairman and long-time member of the Iowa State Transportation Commission, says four-laning U.S. 30 through Iowa is the "right answer" while a plan to do the same with U.S. 20 is a project backed by more political arm-twisting than common sense.

Tom Aller, president of Interstate Power and Light Company and senior vice president of energy delivery for the Alliant Energy Corporation, which owns IPL, talked about the state's transporation future in a wide-ranging interview with Carroll Daily Times Herald reporter and Iowa Independent fellow Douglas Burns.

"When you run the models, four-laning Highway 30 is the right answer," Aller said. "It diverts that traffic off (Interstate) 80 to a different route. When I was on the commission I advocated for that solution. What I advocated also was that we didn’t spend another dime on (U.S.) 30 or (U.S.) 20 until we made that decision. My position on 30 was not anti-Carroll or western Iowa or pro-eastern Iowa. It was 'let’s make a decision what we’re going to solve the I-80 problem.' I could never get the commission to do that, including the last two years when I was chairman because of the enormous political pressure in northwest Iowa to four-lane 20. I’m not on the commission anymore. But there is no justification for four-laning Highway 20. There is no computer model. If it was built tomorrow there would never be any traffic on it."

Aller served on the Iowa State Transportation Commission from 1995 through 2003, including serving as the chair from 2001-2003.

"The issue on I-80 east and west is probably the single most important problem we have facing the transportation system in Iowa," Aller said. "It’s overloaded. It’s continuing to be overloaded. It’s dangerous to drive on. It’s increasing truck traffic. There are two potential solutions to relieving I-80. One is four-laning Highway 30. The other is four-laning Highway 20."

According to the U.S. Highway 30 Coalition of Iowa, the Interstate 80 corridor has the most population (947,010) with U.S. 30 next at (524,562) and U.S. 20 (473,812).

One of the more divisive battles in western Iowa is over the priority in funding for U.S. 30 and U.S. 20.

This story is cross-posted at Iowa Independent where it first appeared.

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