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.