Iowa DOT News

Iowa DOT ready for winter with update to 511 and fully stocked salt storage

AMES, Iowa – Nov. 5, 2013 – The Iowa Department of Transportation is ready to take on the challenges of another Iowa winter. With fall preparations complete, DOT can quickly respond when roadways became covered by a wintery mix of snow and slush.  

Know before you go.
For more than a decade, Iowa’s 24/7 traveler information service, 511, has been assisting motorists make wise travel choices.  

This year motorists will be able to see the road conditions on more of the state’s highways. The number of roads covered by the condition reports available on has increased from 41 to 125. Motorists can also access information to help make smarter winter driving decisions including: road closures, tow bans, traffic speeds, camera views on select roadways, and more. 

Motorists can access 511’s services through a full-feature website for users with faster Internet connections; streamlined website for slower Internet connections; mobile-friendly site; Twitter; Facebook; apps for Apple and Android devices and by telephone by dialing 511 in Iowa or toll free 800-288-1047 nationwide. For more information about all of these options, visit 

How the Iowa DOT prepares for winter
The Iowa DOT's maintenance facilities are well prepared for the challenges of this winter season. The Iowa DOT's 109 maintenance garages employ 1,059 equipment operators, mechanics and supervisors to keep the agency's 901 trucks, 53 motor graders and 12 heavy-duty, self-propelled snow blowers on the road during a winter weather event.  

The Iowa DOT has stockpiled approximately 230,000 tons of salt and nearly 2.5 million gallons of salt brine to help maintain safe travel on the more than 9,400-mile Primary Highway System, consisting of interstate, U.S. and Iowa routes.  

The Iowa DOT uses salt brine, a solution of rock salt and water, to help with winter roadway maintenance. It can be used to pretreat roadways before a storm, thus preventing snow and ice from sticking to the pavement. Brine is also used to prewet salt before it leaves the truck, increasing its ability to melt snow and ice and helps keep it on the roadway surface.  

Iowa DOT trucks often spray brine on bridge decks and other areas prone to frost on days when no snow or ice is in the forecast. This pretreatment prevents the formation of frost, which typically occurs on cold, clear nights. An unexpected encounter with a frost-covered bridge or roadway can be particularly treacherous when traveling at higher rates of speed, making it more difficult to maintain control of your vehicle.  

What you can do to prepare for the months ahead
Winterize your vehicle. To minimize the possibility of a breakdown, get your vehicle tuned up. Check your vehicle’s wipers, hoses, battery, alternator, belts, tires, brakes, exhaust system, lights, and fluid levels. Make sure your vehicle’s heater and defroster are in good working order and you travel with plenty of gas in your tank. A breakdown is frustrating on a good day, but can be dangerous during wintery weather.  

Place a winter survival kit in your vehicle. This kit should contain items to help sustain your life and the lives of your passengers should your vehicle become stranded. These items can include: booster cables, candles and matches, a flashlight with fresh batteries, extra blankets and warm clothes, nonperishable food items, a can for melting snow for drinking water, and a snow shovel. Sufficient supplies should be in the kit for all persons traveling in the vehicle. Carrying a mobile phone in your vehicle is also advised for use during an emergency.  

Time to kick your winter driving skills into gear
The first snowfall and slick roads are a quick reminder that it’s time to adjust your driving behaviors.  

Some very simple changes can help you make the adjustment.

  1. Wear your seat belt. Every trip, every time.
  2. Turn off the cruise control. Cruise control does not allow you to let off the accelerator if you hit a slick spot, making it more difficult to maintain control of your vehicle.
  3. Adjust your speed for conditions. Speed limits are set for ideal driving conditions. Winter weather can create hazards that require slower speeds. Remember these simple slogans, “Ice and Snow …Take It Slow” and “Don’t Crowd the Plow.” 

For more information about winter preparedness and the Iowa DOT's snow and ice control program, check the Iowa DOT's website at


(Editor's note: "Ice and Snow … Take It Slow" logo image is available to download at the following link

Contact: Bob Younie at 515-239-1589 or [email protected]



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