Traffic cams, signs, and U.S. 6 - Thursday 3 with the Iowa DOT #Thurs3DOT

Thursday-Three_3A common idiom states that that often there is more to something than what meets the eye. This is most definitely true in the world of transportation. For most of our activities, there is an in-depth, well researched reason behind what we are doing, though the solution may seem simple. Our Thursday 3 question and answer series was created to give you a closer look at the amount of work that goes into our projects. Each week we are selecting three questions to which we will provide an expert answer. This week’s subjects include the Cedar Rapids speed cameras, interstate signage, and U.S. 6 reconstruction. If you have a question you would like answered, post on Facebook or Twitter with the hashtag #Thurs3DOT for a chance to be featured on the blog!


Q: When are you moving/taking way the Cedar Rapids traffic cameras?

A: Good question. The short answer is- not anytime soon. We are waiting to take action until the court comes up with a decision on pending lawsuits.

The long answer is - Administrative Rule 761—144, titled: “Automated Traffic Enforcement on the Primary Highway System,” was adopted in February 2014. These rules require each city or county that does automated traffic enforcement (ATE) on the state highway system to provide an annual report to the Iowa DOT. The Iowa DOT is then required to evaluate the systems and look at the continued need for each system.    

In the first annual evaluation, the Iowa DOT evaluated 34 camera locations, many with multiple cameras. These locations included interstate speed cameras, arterial speed cameras, cameras that do both red-light running and speed, and cameras that only capture red-light running. We looked at crash data, both before and after the cameras were installed, to determine the effectiveness of the cameras. 

 The results were that 23 of those camera locations were allowed to continue as currently used, nine were required to be removed, one was allowed to continue to issue red-light tickets but discontinue issuing speeding tickets, and one camera had already been removed for an intersection reconstruction project and not allowed to be reinstalled without a justification report (in accordance with the rules).  

Davenport and Council Bluffs each had one location impacted where cameras needed to be removed and both of the cities have stopped using those cameras. The cities of Muscatine, Cedar Rapids, Des Moines and Sioux City have all filed lawsuits against the Iowa DOT and they have decided to continue issuing tickets from these cameras. As mentioned before, The DOT, working closely with the Attorney General’s staff, has decided to not take legal action to get the cameras removed or turned off until the courts have come up with a decision.

All ATE cameras in Iowa are being operated by local offices. Iowa DOT does not have legal authority to own or operate any ATE cameras, nor does the Iowa DOT receive any payment from any of the cameras.  



Q: Why aren’t there more signs on the interstates in Iowa pointing out this section of the Iowa Code (Iowa Code 321.297)?

A: As of right now, there are  691 of these signs installed on the interstates. They are typically located near the borders, rest areas, weigh scales, and near other “reminder” type signs such as “Buckle Up” or “Work Zone Double Fines.” The signs tell drivers to be in the right lane, or to the right, if they are driving slower than the flow of traffic.


Q: U.S.  6, in Tiffin, right in front of the middle school, was torn up on the last few days of school- creating a lot of delays, confusion, and safety concerns. Nothing has happened to it since; are they waiting until the first week of school to start pouring the new surface?

A: When the removal of U.S. 6 was originally scheduled, school should have been out. However, the amount of snow days that occurred pushed it back into the following week. At that point, the rescheduling of the milling machine would have significantly delayed the project so they did the best they could.

We are scheduled to pave Ireland Avenue tomorrow (July 31) and U.S. 6 shortly after that. We are hoping that the weather cooperates and we can finish it before school begins. However, if it is not done, the entrance to the school off of 3rd street will be open (which it wasn’t in May), which should make a big difference.

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