Traffic on Intestate 80 in eastern Iowa.

The Iowa Department of Transportation is studying Interstate 80 from the Illinois to Nebraska border as it plans for the future.

The DOT’s Brad Hofer says they are looking at the busy highway in segments as they put together what he calls a “vision document.”

“It’s a pretty big animal to think about reconstructing — especially in terms of funding. So, we knew we couldn’t do it all at once. We knew we had to kind of take it as the infrastructure sort of aged,” Hofer says. They have been gathering input in online public forums and from transportation groups as part of an overall study.

“This study was to sort of develop a plan with which all those little pieces, all those sections could be built with that end vision, end goal in mind,” he says. Hofer says one thing stood out as they talked to people.

He says some 5,000 people have given input, and a lot of the feedback has dealt with all the trucks on the highway and the need for more lanes. Hofer says they are looking down the road into the future with this study.

“Something new that we did with this study that we haven’t really done before is look at technology and how technology will play a part in future improvements,” Hofer says. ” I know everybody has been talking about automated vehicles and connected vehicles — and this will be the first time that we have really looked at what those kind of technological improvements would do for capacity gains on the roadways.” People from all across the country travel the east-west route.

“Some parts of western Iowa are pretty low and you get towards the eastern side of the state and it’s significantly higher. Some of the projections were up to 55,000 vehicles a day,” Hofer explains. “So, it’s pretty significant.” Hofer says the process is getting underway as they prepare the overall plan.

Hofer says they’ve already started a more traditional study from Iowa City out to West Branch, kicking off a traditional study with the overall picture in mind. The DOT plans to hold another public meeting to gather more input.

“We’ll also kind of put together that vision document and get it out ahead of that meeting. And then we’ll also kind of augment that in-person meeting with another online meeting to give people the chance to comment on that vision document,” according to Hofer. The details on the public meeting have not yet been set.

You can read more on the I-80 study, go to the Department of Transportation’s webpage.