When you see a snowplow go by during a winter storm, do you ever wonder how much it costs to get Iowa's roads back in good shape during and after a storm? If you’re a number cruncher or are just curious, you can see for yourself on a “Winter cost calculator” online tool developed by the Iowa Department of Transportation.
The tool was unveiled about a year ago. It lets users see the cost of material, labor, and equipment; pounds of salt applied; and labor hours expended for the previous 48 hours during winter weather road maintenance activities. Information can be found on the total cost of statewide cleanup efforts, or users can zoom to a specific area of the map to find costs associated with the area being displayed. Iowa’s seven largest metro areas are preloaded in a bookmarks tab for easy viewing. Bookmarks can also be set to locations of a user’s choice.
Color-coded roadways show where resource usage is above, below, or in-line with the statewide average. In addition, users may click on segments of a roadway to get costs specific to that segment, as well as more detailed information such as the last time a plow truck passed the segment, how much time was spent on the segment versus time spent applying material, and the length of the segment.
“For years we’ve used this type of data to track our internal costs and budget for future years’ expenses,” said Tina Greenfield, of the Iowa DOT’s Maintenance Office. “What this tool does is make that same information available to anyone who is interested in knowing what it takes to keep Iowa road safer throughout the winter.”
Information presented on the map is for state-owned roadways only and does not include county or city maintenance information. The data that powers the map comes from the automatic vehicle location system located on Iowa DOT's maintenance vehicles. Data from the system is processed in near real time and used for various analytics and applications to help travelers, businesses, and the Iowa DOT make better decisions.
The web application was developed in-house by the Iowa DOT’s geographic information systems (GIS) team. It is part of a suite of public-facing GIS applications that includes the popular track-a-plow website.