Iowa DOT News Release

Department of Transportation employees answer call to service in response to historic flooding

Posted on: July 17, 2008

Statistics describe Iowa DOT’s disaster response and recovery efforts

AMES, Iowa – July 17, 2008 – During this year’s historic flooding and severe weather, Iowa Department of Transportation (Iowa DOT) employees responded in record numbers to help restore service to individuals around the state. Statistics compiled by the department describe the tremendous efforts of Iowa DOT personnel in responding to the state’s disasters.

Iowa Governor Chet Culver praised the Department of Transportation for their efforts in helping Iowans quickly regain mobility and rebuild their lives. “As Governor, I am immensely proud of the efforts of our entire team at the Department of Transportation,” said Governor Culver. “For thousands of Iowans whose lives were disrupted by the severe weather, Department of Transportation personnel have been a ‘calm within the storm'. These dedicated public servants worked tirelessly to keep Iowa moving, and to ensure the safety of our citizens.”

Below are statistics outlining the efforts of Iowa DOT employees in response to this year’s historic flooding.

  • 783 Highway Division employees worked 45,000 hours on disaster response and recovery efforts, including major debris clean-up work in Parkersburg, Cedar Rapids and many other flooded communities
  • 30,000 equipment hours were recorded
  • 24,865 tons of rock were used to make temporary or permanent road repairs
  • 214 bridge inspections were completed (107 bridges received two inspections at different stages of receding waters)
  • 2 major Mississippi River bridges were struck by runaway barges impacted by the flood swollen river - May 1 (U.S. 34 Great River Bridge in Burlington) and June 9 (U.S. 20 Julien Dubuque Bridge); both bridges underwent thorough inspections and were returned to service the same day 
  • 27 employees worked 1,200 hours at the state’s emergency operation center’s transportation desk
  • 662 staff hours were expended by Iowa DOT maintenance crews in restoring roadway access to the flood-inundated community of Oakville. Oakville was evacuated June 14 when its levee failed and was topped by the Iowa River. DOT crews began making temporary repairs to damaged Louisa County local roads on June 30 and an initial access route was reopened July 1. Iowa DOT crews continued to assist the county in making temporary repairs to Louisa County Road X-99 and that more direct and paved route out of Oakville to U.S. 61 was reopened July 7. The work involved 26 employees and trucks, and 2,650 tons of rock. In addition, two semi-trailer loads of bottled drinking water were delivered Wapello’s emergency shelter serving evacuated Oakville residents.
  • 12,000 phone calls were received through the Iowa DOT’s temporary travel routing call center (involved 34 employees and 589.4 staff hours)
  • 5,000 replies to citizen E-mails were processed
  • 409,665 people visited the Iowa DOT’s special flood information Web site section, which offered photos of damaged roads and bridges, road closure information and flood safety information
  • 767,360 people visited
  • 153,128 people called the 511 phone line (peak call day was June 13 - 39,901 calls)
  • 150 disaster response/recovery missions originating from the State Emergency Operations Center were completed
  • 134 pumps were delivered to communities
  • 6.8 million empty sandbags were delivered
  • 2 employees from the DOT’s Motor Carrier Services and Bridges and Structures offices spent their weekends routing oversize semi tractor-trailer units carrying critical transformers and boilers to Cedar Rapids. (This was not only extremely difficult considering the limited number of roads that were open that could accommodate an oversize load, but oversize loads are normally not allowed to move on weekends. In addition, all movement of all other oversize loads in eastern Iowa was suspended during this period.)
  • 3,335 staff hours were contributed by 67 Motor Vehicle Enforcement officers, sergeants, investigators, and captains in performing security missions, traffic control, and escorting time-sensitive Loads. These employees traveled a total of 44,500 miles to provide such services.
  • 1,328 hours of overtime were worked by all available Motor Vehicle Enforcement officers, sergeants and investigators, who provided traffic control and assisted local law enforcement agencies
  • 15 DOT staff trained as FEMA inspectors provided inspection services

Flooding has had a major impact on the state’s primary highway system, and required round-the-clock monitoring of roads and bridges, placement and subsequent removal of barricades and fence, coordination with neighboring states, suspension of oversize truck permitting, flagging, inspections, and repairs.

  • 149 sections of the primary highway system were closed, including 464 miles of roadway (5.2 percent of the system), and 303 bridges and culverts (7.5 percent of the system)
  • An additional 247 sections of the primary highway system were affected, but the impact or damage did not necessitate a road closure
  • 51 road sections were closed simultaneously June 16, the following day the Mississippi River crossings fell victim to the flooding

Roadways and bridges that sustained major damage are being repaired and reopened as quickly as possible.

  • Only nine primary highway system road sections remain closed, and work is either underway or bid lettings scheduled for these sections.
  • The U.S. 34 Great River Bridge at Burlington also remains closed due to the flooding in the Gulf Port, Illinois, area.


Contact:  Dena Gray-Fisher, 515-239-1922 or


Iowa highway in the evening