AMES, Iowa — The Iowa DOT has reported a recent spike in traffic in the metro area starting in April that’s continuing into May. The first three weeks of May 2022 traffic was up by 3.5 percent from May 2021. Traffic also increased in April 2022 by 2.4% from April 2021.

At the DOT there is some speculation as to what is causing the traffic numbers to increase.

“We came out of a challenging April, temperatures were down, a lot of precipitation and we’re going into a nice warm early May,” said Craig Markley, the head of the DOT Systems Planning Division. “Folks I expect were wanting to get out get those flowers planted.”

In downtown Des Moines the noon-hour traffic on the skywalk has increased according to observers there.

“The traffic has been quite a bit more, with people being back, coming back to work downtown more frequently,” said Jeff Harper, who has made the downtown commute all through the pandemic. “Just the last couple of months I would say it’s noticeably a lot more people that are back downtown, you can see people in the skywalks a lot more than you used to.”

The DOT uses about 40 people each summer to monitor intersections, count the vehicles, and note if the drivers turn left or right. The DOT really needs to know the total vehicle count and how many trucks are a part of that.

“We use them as a foundation for investment,” said Markley. “That investment could be if we need a turn lane, or how long the turn lane should be, or maybe adding a stop sign or traffic signal.”

Here’s a list of more numbers from the DOT Traffic Count:

From all 175 of the Iowa DOT automatic traffic recorder sites sprinkled around Iowa we found the following statistics:

  • Traffic is down 1.8 percent in April 2022 traffic compared to April 2021
  • Traffic is down 3.8 percent in April 2022 compared to April 2019 traffic, before COVID-19
  • Traffic is up 1.6 percent in the first three weeks of May 2022 compared to May 2021
  • Traffic is up 0.4 percent in the first three weeks of May 2022 compared to May 2019 traffic, before COVID-19