Document Type

Technical Report

Publication Date


Performing Organization

Marquette University, Dept of Civil & Environmental Engineering

Contract or Grant Number

WisDOT SPR # 0092-45-59


This report summarizes Iowa results of a five year, Pooled Fund study involving the Wisconsin, Iowa, and Minnesota DOTs designed to 1) assess the public's perceptions of the departments’ pavement improvement strategies and 2) to develop customer-based thresholds of satisfaction with pavements on rural two lane highways in each state as related to the Departments’ physical indices, such as pavement ride and condition. The primary objective was to seek systematic customer input to improve the Departments’ pavement improvement policies by 1) determining how drivers perceive the departments’ pavements in terms of comfort and convenience but also in terms of other tradeoffs departments had not previously considered, 2) determining relationships between perceptions and measured pavement condition thresholds (including a general level of tolerance of winter ride conditions in two of the states), and 3) identifying important attributes and issues that may not have been considered in the past. Secondary objectives were 1) to provide a tool for systematic customer input in the future and 2) provide information which can help structure public information programs.

A University of Wisconsin-Extension survey lab conducted the surveys under the direction of a multi-disciplinary team from Marquette University. Approximately 4500 drivers in the three states participated in the three phases of the project. Researchers conducted six focus groups in each state, approximately 400 statewide telephone interviews in each state and 700-800 targeted telephone interviews in each state. Approximately 400 winter ride interviews were conducted in Wisconsin and Minnesota. A summary of the method for each survey is included.

In Phase I, focus groups were conducted with drivers to get an initial indication of what the driving public believes in regards to pavements and to frame issues for inclusion in the more representative state-wide surveys of drivers conducted in Phase II of the project. Phase II interviews gathered information about improvement policy trade-off issues and about preliminary thresholds of improvement in terms of physical pavement indices. In Phase III, a two step recruitment and post-drive interview procedure yielded thresholds of ride and condition index summarized for each state.

Results show that, in general, the driving public wants longer lasting pavements and are willing to pay for them. They want to minimize construction delay, improve entire sections of highway at one time but they dislike detours, and prefer construction under traffic even if it stretches out construction time. Satisfaction with pavements does not correlate directly to a high degree with physical pavement indices, but was found instead to be a complex, multi-faceted phenomenon. A psychological model (after Fishbein/Ajzen) was applied to explain satisfaction to a respectable degree (R2 of .7) for the social sciences. Results also indicate a high degree of trust in the three DOTs which is enhanced when the public is asked for input on specific highway segments.

Conclusions and recommendations include a three-step methodology for other state studies. Physical data thresholds based on both public satisfaction and the agreement to improve are presented for each state's physical pavement indices (ride and condition). Recommendations for changes to the quality ranges of the physical indices where appropriate are also made.


Public Perceptions of the Midwest's Pavements - Iowa - Executive Summary (CHTE 2001-02). Milwaukee, WI, Marquette University, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, 2001.

This executive summary (Iowa) encompasses aspects of Phase I, Phase II, and Phase III. See links below to those three phases:

Phase I - Focus Group Report

Phase II - State-Wide Survey Report

Phase III - Targeted Survey Report