Deer crashes, cameras and project delays - Thursday 3 with the Iowa DOT #Thurs3DOT

Thursday-Three_2Deer crashes, cameras along the highways, and a slight delay on a much-anticipated construction project are the topics for today’s Thursday 3 with the Iowa DOT. Each week we take questions from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or the comment section of this blog. We choose three questions to answer the next Thursday on the blog. When you submit questions on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, use #Thurs3DOT so we make sure we get them. Our goal is to make the transportation system easier to understand, so if you have a question that pops into your head – we want to hear it!

Q. How many deer are estimated to be in Iowa today and how many cars are registered in Iowa? It seems like there are more deer crashes than in the past.

Deer crossingIn 1990, there were 2,554,940 vehicles registered in Iowa and 6,072 reported crashes with deer that resulted in two fatalities. In 2014, the number of vehicles had risen to 3,533,720 and there were 6,289 reported crashes with deer that resulted in three fatalities. These crash statistics are taken from law enforcement accident reports, so if a driver doesn’t report the crash to law enforcement, it would not be counted in the Iowa DOT’s statistics.

If you are looking to see if there is an increase in crashes that were never reported, the more telling statistics may come from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. While they don't keep deer population numbers, they do track the number of road kill deer collected. In 1980, it was 3,743. In 1990, it was 8,799; in 2014 the number was 9,085. Luckily we haven't seen a large rise in injuries or fatalities from the increase in deer hits.

Q. I have seen cameras posted along highways also at various construction sites around the state mounted on portable units. Are those for the use of the contractor and maybe the construction engineer? Can the public also view them? I noticed several near South Duff and South Fifth in Ames for a while, what were those for?

A. The cameras that you saw along Duff Avenue in Ames are owned by the Iowa DOT and were part of a statewide data collection effort for trip generation rates for various land uses. Those cameras were recording for later analysis and were not sharing live video.

The Iowa DOT owns eight portable, trailer-mounted cameras that can be deployed for a variety of purposes, such as system monitoring for our statewide Traffic Operations Center (TOC), construction observation, time-lapse video of special projects, safety studies, or to temporarily replace permanent cameras that need to be removed or relocated because of road maintenance or construction. For longer-term deployments near metro areas (within reach of our intelligent transportation system communications network), we often provide live streams and still images to the public via


In rural areas, or where live video is not needed, we can log into the cameras remotely for setup and configuration and then retrieve recorded video later.

We also currently have an agreement to rent similar portable, trailer-mounted cameras to observe work zone safety measures deployed on projects with significant traffic impacts. These help the TOC and Iowa DOT staff monitor traffic flow approaching and through critical work zones. When these are placed near a metro area, they can also be shared with the public via In rural areas only, the TOC and certain Iowa DOT staff can access live video, but we are currently experimenting with a service that will allow us to share frequently updated, 10-second video clips. 

Q. Wasn’t U.S. 69 between Huxley and Ames supposed to open Aug. 21? Now the dates on the website say Sept. 4 for a partial opening and Sept. 11 to be completely open. Why the delay?

A. We know every road closure can cause headaches for people who live and work in the area and we really appreciate everyone’s patience as we work to improve your highways.  There is a large amount of coordination that goes into each project. This particular project experienced a slight delay because of a utility issue that has been resolved. The road will be open Sept. 4. There may be some lane closures Sept. 8-11 to finish up work. If that is necessary, a flagger and pilot car will assist motorists through the work zone.


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