"Iowa’s status as a food producer and its posi-
tion along the Mississippi River make it a crucial
state from a transportation standpoint, an Iowa
Department of Transportation commissioner told
members of the Highway 61 Coalition Thursday in
Commissioner David Rose described transpor-
tation as a “reverse triangle,” making an inverted
pyramid shape with his arms. It starts at the top
with ships, before moving down to trucks, pipe-
lines, planes and commuter cars.
One 15-barge tow can carry the same amount of
cargo as 900 trucks, Rose said, and moving them
up the Mississippi River makes transportation eas-
ier and cheaper.
“Cost per mile, it’s one of the cheapest means of
transportation we have,” he said.
Moving ships relies on the lock and dam sys-
tem, including Lock and Dam No. 18 near Burling-
ton. Ideally, the Army Corps of Engineers would
upgrade one lock and dam each year at a cost of $2
billion annually, Rose said.
Trucks are the biggest mover of products within
Iowa, he said, and a shrinking driver base and fed-
eral regulations have affected the industry. Driv-
ers have a median age close to 50, and the industry
isn’t adding many new drivers.
“You as a driver want a guy in that 18-wheeler
who knows what he’s doing,” Rose said.
A rule passed in 2013 limiting drivers to 11
hours of driving per day led to more truck traffic in
high-traffic early-morning hours instead of spread -
ing it throughout the day, too.
And roundabouts, which have become more
popular in traffic design, don’t work well for large