Jun 16, 2021 - News

Iowa's traffic nears pre-pandemic levels

I-235 traffic returning to pre-pandemic levels
Data: Iowa DOT; Chart: Axios Visuals

If Des Moines-area traffic jams bring you back, circa 2019 — you're not wrong.

Driving the news: Traffic in the Des Moines metro has returned to within nearly 5% of pre-pandemic levels, according to the Iowa Department of Transportation.

  • Afternoon traffic volumes are higher than mornings, state DOT official Jeff Von Brown told Axios.

Flashback: Traffic levels plummeted to 28% below normal in the metro last spring, when the pandemic and restrictions forced people to stay home.

  • It dipped again in the winter when Gov. Kim Reynolds urged Iowans not to travel. But it rebounded this spring as vaccines became more widely available.

What's ahead: Employees are returning to downtown workplaces this summer through fall, said Tiffany Tauscheck, chief operations officer for the Greater Des Moines Partnership.

  • Wells Fargo, Principal, Meredith, Krause Group and EMC are planning returns by September, the Register reports.
  • But companies like Nationwide are expecting a "yearslong" return, nixing its pre-pandemic work model.

Of note: The state DOT is planning on installing stop-and-go lights along I-235 on-ramps to control traffic flow, starting 2023.

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