The Iowa Department of Transportation is working across the state this spring and summer to determine how many cars, trucks, and other vehicles are using the state, county, and city roadways. The information gathered allows transportation officials to better predict traffic volume and weight trends, allowing them to plan improvements that will give Iowans the most benefit for each dollar spent.
This year's efforts are concentrated in northeast Iowa, but occasionally crews will work elsewhere in the state. Some employees will spend peak hours between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. at a location counting the morning, noon, and evening traffic. They count and classify vehicles, record vehicle turning movements, and gather other data necessary to assist in planning the future of Iowa's roadway system.
Other employees will be placing and checking portable traffic recorders in the same general areas. When the recorders are set, they usually record data for one or two days and are checked periodically. Employees responsible for the recorders work various shifts, including hours outside of a traditional business day.
Additional statewide work scheduled for this summer includes the installation, upgrading, and maintenance of permanent traffic recorders and weigh-in-motion equipment at continuous count station locations. Other data collection includes taking inventory on railroad crossing characteristics such as the number of tracks, the types of warning devices including signs, lights, horns, and control gates present which are then entered into a handheld field computer. This information is then used in rail crossing planning, engineering, and safety purposes.
People in the area can expect to see Iowa DOT employees and vehicles in their communities all hours of the day. All of this work is critical to the future of the state's transportation system.
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