Traffic Operations

Traffic Management Center

Iowa DOT’s Statewide Traffic Management Center, often referred to as the TMC, is a 24/7 center located in Ankeny. Iowa DOT uses the TMC to proactively monitor the transportation system in real-time, focusing mainly on the primary roadway system throughout Iowa. The highly-trained staff within the TMC coordinates with internal and external partners including Iowa DOT, county and local maintenance staff, and law enforcement, to detect disturbances to traffic flow and assist with implementing strategies that provide safe, quick clearance of incidents and hazards on the roadway.

Interesting facts

TMC staff monitors cameras and assists with state and local agencies and transportation industry stakeholders to keep travelers informed and on-scene responders protected. Tools such as 511, social media, and dynamic message signs allow notification of incidents to those affected, with a goal to reduce both traffic delay and other crashes that may occur in the area as a result of the initial incident. 

Advanced Traffic Management System

The Advanced Traffic Management System is the main tool for Traffic Management Center operators to monitor the transportation system, enter data, manage events, and control intelligent transportation system devices and real-time data exchange. The system includes devices and data from across the state and helps the Traffic Management Center operators meet the traffic management and traveler information needs.
Highway Helpers

Highway Helper

The Highway Helper Program provides incident response and assistance to stranded motorists on the roadways in the Des Moines, Council Bluffs, Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, and the Quad Cities metros. Keeping traffic moving so commuters have reliable drive times and reducing backups that can lead to dangerous conditions is a goal of the program. The free service assists motorists with flat tires, jump starts, and fuel to quickly clear stalled vehicles which can cause backups.  If more extensive repairs are needed, they can transport a driver to a safe location where the driver can make arrangements to have their vehicles moved from the roadway. In addition, Highway Helpers remove debris from the roadway and assist first responders by providing additional traffic control to help reduce crashes that often occur near the original crash site.

Highway Helper services are available:

  • Des Moines
    • Three vehicles patrol I-235, I-80/35, Iowa 5/U.S. 65 bypass, and I-35 between Ankeny and Ames.
    • Service times - 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays.
    • One truck running in the Des Moines Metro area on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Cedar Rapids/Iowa City
    • Two vehicles are focused on patrolling I-80 and I-380 corridor. One additional vehicle is on call for incidents in the I-80/380 construction project.
    • Services times - 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays.
  • Council Bluffs
    • Two vehicles focused on patrolling I-29 and I-80.
    • Services times - 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays.
  • Quad Cities
    • Two trucks patrolling I-80, I-280, and the I-74 construction zone
    • Service times - 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays

The public can request Highway Helper by calling 911.