Road construction continues in Iowa
AMES — Many folks will be taking to the road over Labor Day to enjoy the last long weekend until winter sets in.
The end of summer doesn’t mean the end of construction season. The Iowa Department of Transportation and the state’s counties and cities continue to have work zones in every corner of Iowa to improve the transportation system. Prior to traveling, motorists are urged to visit 511ia.org for the latest traveler information on current projects that might affect travel plans. The information also can be obtained by following the Iowa DOT on Twitter @iowadot or @statewideia511.
For more complete information on major construction projects that will affect travelers across Iowa, the Iowa DOT’s construction website, www.iowadot.gov/travel.html#/highwayconstruction, includes specific project details, project detours and traffic impacts, costs, schedules, construction updates, contact information, and an interactive map that includes current projects on Iowa’s interstate and state highways.
Officials say driver behavior is the key to safety in work zones. Following a few guidelines can help keep both drivers and workers safe and help work toward the goal of zero fatalities on Iowa’s roadways.
• Expect the unexpected in any work zone along any road. Speed limits might be reduced, traffic lanes might be changed, and people and equipment could be at work on or near the road.
• Slow down. Be alert. Pay attention to signs. Diamond-shaped orange warning signs are generally posted in advance of road construction projects. Observe the signs until another one marks the end of the work zone.
• Watch out for flaggers. In addition to other warning signs, a “flagger ahead” warning sign could be posted in the work zone. Stay alert and be prepared to obey the flagger’s directions. In a work zone, a flagger has the same authority as a regulatory sign, meaning a driver can be cited for disobeying the flagger’s directions.
• Merge as soon as possible. Do not zoom up to the point where the lane closes, then try to merge in. Motorists can help maintain traffic flow and posted speeds by moving to the appropriate lane as quickly and safely as possible after first notice of an approaching work zone.
• Slow down when directed. A car traveling 60 mph travels 88 feet per second. A car going 60 mph that passes a sign that reads “Road Work 1500 feet,” will be in that work zone in 17 seconds.
• Don’t tailgate. The most common crash in a highway work zone is the rear-end collision; a driver should leave at least two seconds of braking distance between his car and the vehicle in front of him.
• Keep a safe distance between the vehicle and traffic barriers, trucks, construction equipment and workers.
• Work zones might be mobile. Some work zones – like line painting, road patching, shoulder repair, and mowing – are mobile and advance as the work is finished. Just because a driver does not see the workers immediately after seeing the warning sign does not mean they are not present.
• Expect delays. Plan ahead and leave early to reach a destination on time. Highway agencies use many ways to inform motorists about the location and duration of major work zones. Often, detours are suggested to help drivers avoid the work zone entirely. Plan ahead and try an alternate route.