Iowa DOT Helps Educate Citizens on the Value of a Road Diet


Strong Towns has a long history of being hard on state Departments of Transportation (DOTs). For good reason: very often, these state-level agencies, out of touch with local communities, are the ones pushing for overbuilt, unnecessary projects, and inappropriately applying highway design standards to local streets, with disastrous results for safety and economic productivity alike.

So we have to give credit where credit is due. The Iowa DOT—which we’ve acknowledged before for forward thinking—clearly has some people who get the difference between how a high-speed road should function and how an urban street should function. But not just that: they’re also helping educate Iowans about that difference, with this video illustrating the benefits of a 4-to-3 lane conversion, a common type of road diet which turns a 4-lane street into a 2-lane street with a center turn lane—almost always slowing traffic and improving safety and economic vitality alike.

And, in a nice Iowa twist, the video even covers how these designs work for farm equipment. (Answer: just fine!)

Not only that, the Iowa DOT has a whole section of its website devoted to 4-to-3 conversions, including a handy myth-debunking fact sheet. Well done, Iowa.

Hat tip to Strong Towns member Christopher Borey, who made us aware of the video. The Des Moines Register shared it in conjunction with a story about exactly such a proposed lane reduction on a stretch of Iowa state highway in Indianola.