Council Bluffs seeks federal funding for transportation


March 31st, 2011

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Omaha, NE – Members of Council Bluff’s Area Chamber of Commerce visited Sen. Chuck Grassley this week in an attempt to gain federal funding for state and local projects.

This week, the Council Bluffs area chamber of commerce made the long trip to Washington D.C. The visit served as a two-day series of meetings in an attempt to gain federal funding for several projects in the Council Bluffs area. One of those meetings included a conference with Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley where members of the chamber voiced their concerns on a variety of issues.

“Six different people presented a certain aspect they’re interested in,” Grassley said, “like a children’s square, the highway bill and … questions they brought up was are we going to have a government shutdown, what about electronic healthcare records? What about the chances of a highway bill? And how come there is not more bipartisanship?”

Sen. Chuck Grassley says the message received after the 2010 Congressional elections is voters don't like earmarks.

Grassley said he welcomed the presentation by several members of the Chamber, but realistically it would be difficult to ask the federal government for assistance on several of those programs, particularly interstate reconstruction.

“You’re going to have to increase revenues for roads and we’re still worried about the double dip recession,” he said. “You don’t increase taxes when you’re going to have a recession. For the 9% of the people who are unemployed, you know it’s not a recession, it’s a depression.”

In 2005, Senator Grassley was able to secure $2.3 billion for Iowa projects for five years, as part of an overall transportation bill. But, Grassley said without using the traditionally favored earmarked process, securing federal support becomes more difficult.

“This year is different than every other year they’ve been out here.” Grassley said, “We in Congress get the message from the last election that the public doesn’t like earmarks. Things that Council Bluffs and the surrounding communities want us to do and all the interests … that are represented in the delegation, they’ll have to make applications to the bureaucracy and have things decided by a bureaucrat … whether or not Council Bluffs ought to get something or the money ought to go to Denver, Colorado or any other city.”

Bob Mundt is President and CEO of Council Bluff’s Area Chamber of Commerce. He said he emphasized Council Bluff’s transportation needs.

“In Council Bluffs, we’ve got at least two, if not three, really good sized projects that are looking for transportation funding,” he said. “The main one being the interstate reconstruction and we’re also looking at funding on West Broadway as well as some additional work at the airport. So those were some big issues that we talked about.”

Despite some challenges that may lie ahead for many of the requests, Mundt said the visit was not without success, particularly when it comes to peace of mind.

“I think that anytime you can get in front of your Congressional delegation, and talk about your issues, and make sure they understand where they’re coming from, and you know where they’re coming from, I think it makes people feel better.”

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