Research at a glance

Pre-fabricated bridge elements

For over 60 years the Iowa Department of Transportation has been a leader in significant transportation research. Beginning with the Iowa Highway Research Board program in 1950, the Iowa DOT has strived to stay on the leading edge of innovations in materials, processes and technologies that bring improvements and longevity to Iowa's transportation system.

Iowa's achievements in transportation research are the result of numerous collaborations between a small core of Iowa DOT research staff, experts and agencies across Iowa and the United States, Iowa DOT technical staff, Iowa's city and county engineers, university researchers and industry partners.

At the forefront in researching transportation safety, Portland cement concrete pavements, winter maintenance, and bridges and structures, the Iowa DOT maintains a celebrated history of developing new applications and technologies through research. Currently a leader in the developing fields of human factors and intelligent compaction/construction for soils and geotechnical construction, the Iowa DOT performs transportation research excelling in six main areas:

  • Transportation safety: Improved reflectivity of signs and pavement markings, traffic calming measures, reduction in lane departure incidents, and work zone safety.
  • Portland cement concrete pavements: Improved pavement surface characteristics (noise and friction), use of supplementary cementitious materials, and prevention of premature pavement joint deterioration. Iowa DOT Pavement work
  • Winter maintenance: Improved snow and ice removal equipment, weather information data collection and materials, and methods for snow and ice removal chemical application.
  • Bridges and structures: Structural health monitoring and load testing, innovative structural materials, accelerated construction methods, and nondestructive and rapid evaluation of structures.
  • Human factors: Driver behavior, OWI recidivism, and commercial driver fatigue.
  • Intelligent compaction/construction: Direct measurement of soil and hot-mix asphalt compaction from machine response values, and automated machine control and guidance.

Recognizing the immediate need to manage, repair and replace our continually aging and congested transportation system, the Iowa DOT supports research that will ease the burden threatening our infrastructure. Accelerated implementation of promising research findings and adaptation of proven innovations for longer-lasting, safer roads and bridges is a primary goal.