July 31, 2020
Slow-moving maintenance activities, like painting pavement markings, are some of the most dangerous parts of the work our field forces need to get done. Typically, our own crews use equipment to apply a layer of water-borne paint and then drop a layer of tiny glass beads into the wet paint. The glass beads reflect light, which makes the lines more visible at night. But, because this is Iowa and our harsh weather conditions require snow-removal equipment that can scrape off the paint and glass beads, many of our roads, and especially our interstate markings, need to be repainted every year. The nature of the work means we have to paint the lane markings while traffic is speeding by, increasing the danger for both travelers and our crews.
Always looking for a better way to do things, our staff is testing a new epoxy paint system applied in grooves on Iowa interstates this summer. Iowa DOT engineers John Hart and Clayton Burke, of our Construction and Materials Bureau, are spearheading the effort to improve paint markings.
With more people getting out and about, you’ll likely run into a work zone on an Iowa road this summer. The Iowa DOT alone has hundreds construction projects this season, and that doesn’t include maintenance projects or projects done by counties or cities.
We know you probably have a lot on your mind right now but keeping a close eye on your surroundings and the road ahead of you is extremely important if you’re behind the wheel, particularly when you are driving through a work zone. We take a lot of steps to keep workers in work zones safe, but they are counting on your behavior behind the wheel to make sure they make it back to their loved ones at the end of the day. Your choices and behavior are a life or death situation for them.
A range of issues from COVID-19 health concerns to social issues to uncertainty related to schools openings in the fall are causing stress for many of us. Some researchers have found that hot temperatures that make us uncomfortable may lead already irritated people to lash out.
When it’s hot and sticky outside, minor provocations – like forgetting to signal or cutting off another vehicle – are more likely to quickly escalate into dangerous retaliatory behavior (like tailgating) or even outright violence.
Where we go to work every day has changed for some of us, but not for those who call a construction zone their workplace. While the global pandemic has slowed the pace of many “normal” activities, road construction continues to move full steam ahead.
The Iowa DOT has more than $775 million in construction projects on the books for this year. That doesn’t count all the maintenance projects on state and U.S. highways and interstates or projects being done by cities or counties on their roads.
New ideas in transportation can come from any number of sources. Iowa DOTers are an inquisitive bunch who don’t hesitate to look at new ways of doing business and update methods when necessary. The research section, part of the Strategic Performance Division, is always gathering ideas from all areas of the DOT on topics that can be considered for our research program which could potentially help you find new and better ways to do your job and improve transportation in Iowa.
Do you have an idea or problem you are trying to solve that you think should be researched or are you curious about the current status of ideas in the research pipeline? The Iowa DOT has launched a new Research Ideas website. This site is a complement to the existing research site and offers information on new and in-progress research in an easy-to-navigate format. The new site allows keyword searches and the ability to filter ideas.
Focus on the road. When you’re behind the wheel, your only job is to keep your vehicle moving along safely. We know there’s a lot going on in the world right now and your phone may blow up at any moment with the latest social media alert, group chat, or other distractions.
Most cell phones have a “do not disturb” mode, either in your phone’s settings, apps you can download, or from your cellular service provider, that can be activated while driving. For many, this mode can be set to automatically kick in when your phone’s blue tooth is connected to your vehicle. For your own wellbeing and the safety of others on the road, use this technology to your advantage.