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What “Traffic Counters” are for and why they are popping up in northeast Iowa

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WATERLOO, Iowa (KWWL) - If you have driven anywhere in Waterloo lately, you've probably driven over cables stretched across the roads. The Iowa DOT placed them across the city, and plan to move to other areas throughout the summer and fall.

The cables attach to boxes, and the purpose of them is to count traffic. The tubes count how much traffic and what type of traffic each street gets throughout the day.

The boxes stores the data of all the cars, trucks, and other vehicles using state, county, and city roadways.

“If traffic increases in the area maybe it calls for a yield sign. Maybe traffic increases to the point where it calls for stop sign. If we’re talking of busier intersections maybe we have a large increase in turning traffic that would call for a left turn lane," Field Services Coordinator Pete Hjelmstad said.

Last time the machines were in Waterloo was in 2017. Throughout the summer and even into the fall DOT workers will set them up in cities across the northeast quadrant of the state.

They will record traffic numbers in each city for a couple days at a time.

“While we focus on one area of the state, we will do other areas too if it's requested or if we feel that it is needed sooner than when it is scheduled to be counted," Hjelmstad said.

While they are in town, Iowa DOT workers can be seen at any point throughout the day checking the traffic recorders and getting the data they need.

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Diego Hernandez

Multimedia Journalist

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