Calculating a way to build better rural roads and bridges

The Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) checkoff program is ­launching a new Roadway and Bridge Improvement Calculator, an online service intended to help local communities better plan road and bridge projects. Simple, ­customizable and fast, the calculator will allow ­communities to save time and money during budgeting and planning stages so that more financial resources can be put toward the actual improvement of roads and bridges.

“The Roadway and Bridge Improvement Calculator gives ­decision-makers the information they need to prioritize improvements and decide where limited funds can have the most impact,” says Becca Wagner, engineer with Hanson Professional Services who oversaw the development of the calculator. “It also automates repetitive calculations, cutting down on time spent studying roadway conditions and allowing more funds to be put toward road and bridge improvements.”

Wagner acknowledges county and city engineers, town officials and others need to consider many factors when planning road and bridge projects. The Road and Bridge Improvement Calculator lets them quickly assess calculations, such as the cost of reconstructing versus resur­facing a road or analyzing safety benefits of efforts like widening a road shoulder or installing a traffic signal. The service even will generate an overall benefit-cost ratio of improvements, taking into account safety ­benefits, travel efficiency, emissions and life cycle construction costs.

According to the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), Illinois has more than 146,000 miles of roads – the third highest number in the country. More than 70 percent of those roads are rural. To learn more about ISA transportation and infrastructure efforts, visit