When construction season and tourist season collide
May 22, 2023
It sounds like a recipe for frustration. Major repairs are needed to the main transportation artery through a very popular tourist area. As most Iowans know, the road construction season can be intense because good weather to accommodate work is somewhat limited. The same could be said for the summer water sports season.
Here’s the situation. The pavement on U.S. 71 in Iowa’s Lakes region in Northwest Iowa needs to be replaced and the sidewalks on the causeway, which is a short bridge over the lake, need to be updated with safety barrier rail to protect pedestrians. Most of the impacts are to the towns of Arnold’s Park and Okoboji, home to one of the most popular lake regions in the state.
For the Iowa Department of Transportation to provide excellent customer service, we needed to find a way to get nearly $20 million in construction work done while also minimizing disruption to the tourist season. Our team in the District 3 office in Sioux City ramped up communication with both our contracting partners and the community, with a focus on listening to and taking the needs of those in the area into consideration when staging certain aspects of the project to reconstruct U.S. 71.
HIGH-FLYING SAFETY INITIATIVE AIMS TO GET TRAFFIC MOVING MORE QUICKLY AFTER AN INCIDENT
April 20, 2023
When something unexpected like a traffic crash happens, getting first responders to the scene to treat you if you’re injured is the first priority. While this is happening, law enforcement and other first responders, including the Iowa Department of Transportation, are completing investigations and doing whatever they can to get the road cleared so traffic can get moving normally again.
Clearing crashes quicker to keep you safer on Iowa’s roads
March 20, 2023
When there is a crash, especially one that involves a large truck, every minute counts to get traffic moving again and keep you safer on the road. Research shows that for every minute that a lane is closed, the risk of another crash in the area goes up by 2.8 percent. At around 30 minutes, the chance of a second crash in the area is very high.
A new program in the Iowa City and Des Moines areas helps us fulfill one of our core values, “Safety First”, by clearing crashes more quickly, especially those involving large trucks, which reduces your risk of being involved in a second crash. The program offers incentives to towing companies to have specialized equipment ready to respond to commercial vehicle crashes.
New research aims to increase safety for those in and around snowplows
February 27, 2023
Our mission is to make lives better through transportation, which includes looking for ways to make you safer when traveling on wintry Iowa roads, especially when you come up on one of our massive snowplow trucks.
Light it up – testing new lighting for our snowplow trucks
You would think that our very large orange trucks would be difficult to miss, but we still have dozens of them hit from behind every year. In a crash like that, it’s generally the motorist who suffers the most serious consequences. To help you better see our trucks in winter weather, we’re researching new ideas to improve the lighting that is visible when coming up behind one of our trucks.
Plow cam images provide more than just a glimpse at winter weather
January 24, 2023
You know when you have this idea that you think is pretty good, but you have no concept of how it might explode into something much more than you expected over time? That’s what happened with the snow plow camera images the Iowa Department of Transportation began using eight years ago.
Roadside Chat - Flashing lights? Do what's right. Move over
November 18, 2022
To keep everyone safer on the road, every state across the country has enacted some form of a “Move Over” law to encourage motorists to either slow down or move over when they come up on a crash scene. National data shows that nearly 30 percent of people are unaware that these laws exist.
As we finish out Crash Responder Safety Week, here’s a reminder about Iowa’s “Move over” law. The law (Iowa Code 321.323) was enacted in 2002 to help protect responders and motorists. It was expanded in 2018 to include not only emergency vehicles but any vehicle alongside the road with flashing lights.
New research searches for ways to “see” through bad weather
November 9, 2022
We can’t say it enough – safety is at the core of everything we do at the Iowa DOT. But the nature of being on the road in all kinds of conditions puts some of our team members in danger, such as snow fighters working in weather that can make it tough to see out of the windshield. We must find ways to make those situations as safe as possible.
To help accomplish one of our five-year priority goals to grow innovation, we are working with Iowa State University’s Institute for Transportation to develop equipment that allows our folks to “see” better in bad weather. This includes equipping snow plows with sensors and driver aids to allow our staff to continue working in low visibility situations that improves the safety of both those traveling on the roads and our staff.
Enhancing worker safety – new technology may light the way
October 26, 2022
Highway maintenance workers will tell you, to work along the road, you must keep a constant eye on both the work you are doing and the traffic moving around you. But splitting your concentration isn’t ideal and it can be dangerous.
As part of the Iowa DOT’s Business Plan, a one-year objective for 2022 seeks to “Improve Work Zone Safety.” One element of that objective is focused on helping motorists better see work zones, theoretically helping them avoid crashes in work areas. With the 2020 deaths of two of our employees, Lynn Roder and Jeff Arbogast, fresh in our hearts and minds, this objective has become even more urgent.
Using roadside technology to help you better plan a safer trip
October 25, 2022
Whether you’re planning a weekend getaway or a trip to visit family and friends, having the best information about your route will help you have a safer, quicker, and less stressful journey. While winter is coming, the Iowa Department of Transportation and our construction partners will still have many active work zones as long as the weather holds. These work zones and associated delays can sometimes put a kink in your travel plans if you’re not prepared for them.
Automation of sound warning to increase safety in Iowa work zones
October 24, 2022
Making sure you are paying attention when you’re driving near those working on the road is essential to helping you avoid a crash and keeping everyone in the area safe, the main priority of the Iowa Department of Transportation. Last year we told you about a program that added a loud noise to a piece of equipment known as an attenuator. An attenuator is typically a trailer pulled by a large truck. Their purpose is to block oncoming traffic from entering a work zone and they are designed to take a hit instead of a worker if a driver happens to not be paying attention. While we’ve seen success with adding sound to this equipment, the next step to keeping you safer on the road is to automate the triggering of the noise.