Most states approach transportation within their borders mode by mode–highways, railroads and ports. When Paul Trombino, director of Iowa’s Department of Transportation, looks at a map of his state with its widespread highway system, rail network and river ports, he instead sees a vast supply chain.The Minnesota legislature tends to approach transportation spending based on two principles; prioritizing commuters over the movement of goods, and deciding which road projects to prioritize based on the political power of the elected politicians in the area.
By looking at roads and bridges with an eye towards commerce, Iowa is recognizing that the primary role of state funding for roads is to create and maintain the infrastructure for businesses to move goods to consumers. The bonus here is that roads and bridges designed to move goods can also accommodate commuters, while roads designed for commuters can't always handle freight. Light rail, on the other hand, can't move any goods to the consumers because it is designed specifically to only handle people.