U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590
202-366-4000


Skip to content U.S. Department of Transportation/Federal Highway AdministrationU.S. Department of Transportation/Federal Highway Administration

Safety

eSubscribe
eSubscribe Envelope

FHWA Home / Safety / Intersection / Intersection Safety

Iowa DOT Provides "Expert-on-Hand" Technical Assistance to Promote Roundabouts Across the State

FHWA-SA-11-029
May 2011

USDOT treskelion logo.
U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration

Office of Safety Logo: Safe Roads for a Safer Future - Investment in roadway safety saves lives.

PDF Version [494 KB]
Adobe logo. You will need the Adobe Acrobat Reader to view this PDF.




Background

Small localities in Iowa, as in other states, do not necessarily have the resources to staff a full-time traffic engineer dedicated to analysis and design of intersection safety enhancement projects, including roundabouts. The Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) created an innovative program—the Traffic Engineering Assistance Program (TEAP)—to deliver this very service to help smaller jurisdictions by providing an "expert-on-hand," who visits the jurisdiction, gathers input from local stakeholders, and makes recommendations to help the agency identify, analyze, and implement traffic safety improvements. In 2004, Iowa DOT expanded its expert-on-hand repertoire to include roundabout analysis, design, and outreach support. They implemented this expansion in response to frequent questions about roundabout feasibility, how to design a roundabout effectively, and how to generate support from the local community.

Banner: Expert-on-hand

Location

  • State of Iowa (Central United States)

Implementation Stage

  • Planning
  • Design
  • Construction
  • Launch
  • Post-Implementation

Roundabout Type/Setting

  • Single- and multi-lane roundabouts in urban and rural settings

Target Audience

  • Engineers
  • Elected Officials/Mangers

Strategies Employed

  • Expert-on-hand
  • Website
  • Managed mailing list

Before
Photo of the approach to a rural T-intersection.

After
Photo of the approach to a roundabout installed at the old site of a T intersection.
Figure 3: Before and After – County-led project with assistance provided through Iowa DOT's expert roundabout review program. Black Hawk County, Iowa. Images Courtesy of Iowa DOT

Snapshot of a page from the Iowa Driver's License Manual illustrates how to use a single lane roundabout.
Figure 4: A page from the Iowa Driver's License Manual illustrates how to use a single lane roundabout.

Approach

The TEAP provides a variety of traffic safety engineering consulting services, including identifying and recommending intersection improvements based on traffic and safety data, dealing with unwarranted traffic control devices, and accommodating pedestrians and bicyclists. Through this program, Iowa DOT also offers no-cost, expertlevel roundabout design reviews to any local road agency that needs related technical assistance during any stage of the project delivery process. The program provides up to 100 hours of consulting time to qualifying local agencies with no local match required. Iowa DOT also provides an educational component led by an Iowa DOT traffic safety engineer, who is available to work with local agencies to help generate stakeholder support for roundabouts from, for example, the general public, local businesses, and elected officials. The traffic safety engineer can attend local community meetings with the general public and/or elected officials as requested.

Screenshot of the Iowa DOT roundabout information website
Figure 1: Screenshot of the Iowa DOT roundabout information website.

Screenshot of the Iowa DOT TEAP website.
Figure 2: Screenshot of the Iowa DOT TEAP website.

In 2008, Iowa DOT held two one-day conferences for local engineering staff that brought together engineers and county staff from across the State to provide an introduction to roundabouts, including an overview of outreach techniques that have been successfully implemented, both in Iowa and elsewhere in the United States. Experts from across the country, including representatives from regions that have successfully implemented roundabouts such as the City of Clearwater (Florida), Washington State DOT, and Kansas DOT, discussed their agencies' experiences with roundabouts, what worked well, challenges that they faced, and lessons learned.

The Iowa DOT also manages a traffic and safety e-mail list with over 300 subscribers (including university staff, DOT staff, local consultants, and city/county engineering and public works staff), enabling wide, but targeted, distribution of important roundabout-related messages with the click of a button.

Results

Iowa DOT staff believe that this program has worked well, pointing to the various successful roundabout projects and programs around the State. According to Tim Simodynes, traffic safety engineer with Iowa DOT, "If a city is interested in considering a roundabout, they usually have questions. Having experts available to answer those questions correctly is what makes the roundabout outreach a success. The TEAP helps us to do that for jurisdictions of all sizes."

Because of TEAP, the local municipalities and engineers have changed their perception of roundabouts. "If they are open-minded and you give them the facts, they are usually sold on roundabouts. Naturally...a first reaction is that a roundabout is a bad idea, but it just takes education," said Mr. Simodynes.

Lessons Learned

In addition to bringing a traffic safety engineer to a public meeting, it can be helpful to show examples of successful roundabout implementations from other comparable regions of the country and provide contact information for those jurisdictions.

Outreach Investment

Iowa DOT considers TEAP to be a very cost-effective choice, because the program costs are primarily for the program engineer's salary and/or consultant time, relative to the safety benefits that jurisdictions of all sizes reap with the technical and outreach assistance delivered through the program.

Related Products

Websites
Iowa Goes Roundabout website
http://www.iowadot.gov/roundabouts/roundabouts.htm

Traffic Engineering Assistance Program website http://www.iowadot.gov/traffic/teap.html

Learn More

Tim Simodynes, PE
Traffic Safety Engineer
Iowa Department of Transportation
515.239.1349
tim.simodynes@dot.iowa.gov


Jeffrey Shaw
Intersections Program Manager
FHWA Office of Safety
708.283.3524
jeffrey.shaw@dot.gov

Page last modified on December 1, 2015.
Safe Roads for a Safer Future - Investment in roadway safety saves lives
Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000