Iowa Road Signs


Select a question below to reveal the answer.

Where can TODS be placed?

TODS are installed by the department in advance of the intersection from which the business or site is accessed. The business and intersection must be located outside the urban area for a city with a population of 5000 or more. There may be cases where sign congestion or hard surfaces adjacent to the shoulder interfere with the ability to install the signs. Interchanges are not eligible for TODS; the program is limited to at-grade intersections.

Do all businesses qualify?

The department adopted a revised rule chapter in 2023 making it easier for businesses to qualify. If your business is open to the general public for at least 20 hours per week, there is a good chance that it will be eligible for the program. The business cannot restrict entry based on age, and should offer a product, service, or experience to any visitor. Manufacturing plants, trucking terminals, distribution centers, etc., probably will not qualify unless public tours are available during the operating times.

The program is limited to signing for businesses and sites which are located within ten miles of the intersection where the signs will be placed. However, if a business or site is located adjacent to the highway and visible to traffic, it may not qualify from one or both directions, depending upon how visible it is from each direction. These businesses should instead rely on effective on-premise signing installed on private property.

Can I put whatever I want on the sign?

The signs are designed by the department, but applicants are given a chance to approve or reject the design. However, the message should be limited to just identifying the business or site. If the name isn’t very descriptive of the nature of the activity or business, an extra word or two can sometimes be added. The department must adhere to the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) in the design of the signs and messages are limited to two lines and 15 to 18 characters per line, depending upon whether font size is reduced. This doesn’t mean that you can fill up to the maximum allowed; the message should simply identify the business or site.

How much does the signs cost?

A set of two signs will cost $700. If one direction only is approved, the cost will be $350. If smaller, wayfinding type signs (known as “trailblazers”) are needed, an additional fee – usually $26 – will be required. There is an annual fee of $50/sign due each July 1st. If your signs are installed in April, May, or June, the renewal fee will not be assessed. Non-profit organizations are not charged with fees.

How big are the signs?

A standard-sized TODS is 72” long and 18” high. Sometimes limited green space along the shoulder merits an odd-sized sign so that it will fit without causing safety concerns.

Can I sign up for a second set of signs from another highway or the same highway but at a different intersection?

Yes, if your business or site is within qualifying range. However, the department discourages the use of signs which will send a motorist backtracking to get to the business or site. In certain cases, the department can approve a sign for one direction at one intersection and an opposite direction from a different intersection.

I'm only open during the season. Can I still apply?

Yes, as long as your season is at least four weeks in length. Small panels which display a "CLOSED" message may be required, covering the arrow portion of your sign during the off-season.

How do I apply?


Login  |  ©  Iowa Department of Transportation.  All rights reserved.