Can you imagine counting cars for a living? About 60 people are starting their summer jobs this week doing just that for the Iowa Department of Transportation. While it may sound rather mundane, the D-O-T’s Pat Cain says it’s an important task. He says traffic counts are used to project volume for the year and that helps the D-O-T evaluate how well the roadway system is working.Cain, director of the D-O-T’s Office of Transportation Data, says the temporary employees range in age from college kids to Iowans in their 70s who are looking for summer work. The counters are put in a different quadrant of the state each year. This year, Cain says they’re mostly in the northeast.Some will do manual counts at intersections making counts of numbers and types of vehicles and the number of occupants. Cain says other counters will be going out to various roads across northeastern Iowa to place devices known as traffic recorders.Cain says the data gathered allows D-O-T officials to project future growth of traffic statewide and to plan for improvements that’ll give Iowans the most service for every dollar spent.
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