ROADS/BRIDGES: Iowa ups its digital info on two major arteries

March 31, 2015

I-380 and Hwy. 30 will be the bearers of new digital messages signage; reactions are mixed

The Iowa Department of Transportation (IDOT) has unveiled plans to install five new digital message signs along I-380 and Hwy. 30, respectively. A statement released by IDOT via Cathy Cutler, transportation planner with IDOT’s Cedar Rapids District 6 office, stipulated, “It's a way to reach out to the traveling public and get high level important information to a lot of people.”

The new digital signs will be comparable to those presently in use across I-380 near Wilson Avenue. Their locations were selected based on an investigation into precisely where signage could reach the greatest number of drivers and provide the most necessary information to the traveling public—information including traffic back ups, weather concerns, road conditions, detours or even emergencies such as Amber Alerts.

Motorists have had mixed reactions to the signs. Though generally supportive, some Iowans find the signs distracting. “I think they are helpful,” Brian Textor of Iowa City told The Gazette. “They are really big, which could distract people, but they are easy to see from far away,” while Cottage Grive citizen Mary Bandeson told the newspaper, “You don't really have time to read [them], so [they are] a distraction.”

IDOT has acknowledged certain objections to the signs, but they are designed to be in the line of sight looking straight ahead and to contain a concise message so as to minimize drivers’ need to remove their eyes from the road.

As for the installation work itself, concrete pads to hold the new signs were poured last fall; however, there is a back order on the trusses to hoist the signs, which has caused delays, even though the digital signs themselves are already on hand.

Two of the new signs will be located near the 29th Street bridge on I-380. One will be a replacement of an existing sign and the other will be new. Other sign locations include north of the 76th Avenue SW overpass along I-380, and on Hwy. 30, east of Jappa Road and east of the 151/13 junction.