Construction Spending Tripples in CR

Drivers in Cedar Rapids have certainly noticed an increase in road construction in recent years. But drivers may not realize just how much more the city is putting into fixing up roads compared to just a few years ago.

Road construction currently underway in Cedar Rapids on Collins Road near Lindale Mall. The amount the city is spending on annual road projects should hit $37 to $40-million dollars in the current fiscal year.

Before the Paving for Progress program launched in 2014, Cedar Rapids spent somewhere between $11-million and $12-million dollars a year on roadwork, not counting routine maintenance like potholes.

But in November of 2013, city voters approved a one cent local option sales tax with the proceeds strictly for road expansion and repair for the next 10 years.

In the first fiscal year that followed, 2014, the city spent a combined $25.6-million dollars on roadwork. The next year, the amount increased to $31.8-million.

In the current fiscal year, that ends June 30th of next year, the amount spent on roads should wind up somewhere between $37 and $40-million dollars.

That’s a tripling of roadwork money in just five years.

Doug Wilson, project manager for C.R. Paving for Progress, says the complaints city hall gets about roads is starting to change.

It used to be the roads are just terrible.

Now it’s more like there’s so much roadwork going on I can’t avoid construction.

“There’s a little bit of that but people notice you’re making good headway on the roads and say we appreciate the work going on. So we do have positives about the program certainly,” Wilson said.

Wilson also says even with a lot more money going into roadwork in Cedar Rapids, the 10 years of Paving for Progress, that ends in 2024, won’t be enough to fix all the roads.

He says at some point, staffers are likely to recommend to council another vote to keep the one cent local option tax going for another 10 years.