Systems Planning


Highway Planning

Iowa's highway network is the backbone of the state transportation system and accounts for the vast majority of investments. The Systems Planning Bureau prepares and publishes highway transportation studies and plans to:

  • Provide guidance for the expenditure of limited resources for highway improvements.
  • Determine sufficiency ratings for the state primary road system.
  • Determine improvement needs for the entire public road and street system.

The Highway System Plan is used to manage the state's 10,000-mile Primary Highway System and guide investment decisions. The plan places the highest emphasis on maintaining, preserving, and rebuilding the interstate highways because these are the most heavily traveled routes in the state. A newly created "Super-2" design is introduced that is safer than a standard two-lane roadway and provides most of the benefits of a four-lane route but at a lower cost. Other areas of emphasis in the highway plan include narrow roadway improvements, rail and highway grade separations, transit accommodations, bypass guidance, and accommodations for bicycles and pedestrians.

Each year a primary road sufficiency rating is published for all primary highways. Each mile of primary highway is evaluated based on structural adequacy, safety and service. Sufficiency ratings are another of the many tools used in making highway investment decisions.

All roads, streets and highways in Iowa are classified according to a federal functional classification system. This information is kept up to date by the Systems Planning Bureau.

2003-2007 Transportation Improvement Program by Iowa in Motion Improvement Category Map Dec. 16, 2002


The team prepares estimates of future automobile and truck volumes to assist corridor/project location studies conducted by the Project Planning Bureau, and design studies conducted by the Design Bureau and the Engineering Bureau.

Urban Transportation Planning Support

Team members provide technical support and assistance to Metropolitan Planning Organizations for the operation of urban travel demand models (Tranplan) and other traffic forecasting activities.


Management and guidance is provided for forecasting-related research projects conducted by universities and funded by the Iowa DOT or U.S. DOT.

Interchange Justification

The team assists transportation center planners, MPOs and others to complete interchange justification studies required for the addition or modification of interchanges on the Interstate System and controlled-access highway routes in Iowa.

Process for New or Revised Interstate Access May 2013
FHWA Interstate System Access Informational Guide August 2010


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