The Iowa Department of Transportation is getting its annual traffic count underway — with the focus this year on the southeastern part of the state. The D.O.T.’s Mark Hansen says they try to cover one fourth of the state each year. They use several methods to count the traffic. He says some temporary employees will actually sit at intersections and count traffic, while they also use electronic portable devices where black tubes are spread across a roadway to count the cars.

While they are counting the traffic volume, Hansen says they have another tool that gives them a visual record of the roadways. Hansen says they have a photolink van that travels the roadways and takes pictures linked to a G.P.S. system.

He says they look at guard rails, sign age, shoulders and pavement condition, so they have a track record of what the roads looked like years ago compared with now. Hansen says the counting and pictures allow them to know which roadways need work due to their condition and use.

“We like to view it as a wise investment for determining where we should spend the taxpayer dollars,” Hansen says. Approximately 40 temporary summer employees and several permanent staff members will be involved in the traffic monitoring programs.