WATERLOO — Transportation planners want to know where you’re going and how you’re getting there.
Thousands of residents in the Waterloo-Cedar Falls metropolitan area will be asked to participate over the next year in the National Household Travel Survey designed to gather data on American travel habits.
The crux of the survey involves keeping a 24-hour travel diary for everyone in a household.
Officials with Iowa Northland Regional Council of Governments, which oversees local transportation planning efforts, are urging those who get the survey to participate.
“We don’t want people to look at it and throw it out because it’s not junk mail,” said Kevin Blanshan, INRCOG’s executive director. “We’ll be able to use this data to help us prioritize projects and ultimately provide better, more efficient use of tax dollars.”
The National Household Travel Survey is conducted nationwide every five to seven years by the Federal Highway Administration, which means a handful of area households may have been randomly selected to participate in the past.
This year, INRCOG piggy-backed on the survey by asking FHWA to add six more questions specific to the Waterloo-Cedar Falls area and seeking far more responses locally.
Codie Leseman, INRCOG transportation planner, said about 18,000 Cedar Valley households will be randomly selected to receive a survey from now through April 2017.
“That ends up being about one in three households,” he said.
Along with questions about travel habits, the survey will ask each participant to keep track for 24 hours of where they go, what they did there and whether they drove a car, rode a bike, took a bus or used other forms of transportation.
Blanshan noted the information provided by individual participants is confidential by law.
“To our knowledge, we haven’t really had anything done from an origin and destination standpoint in this area since 1969,” Blanshan said. “The ultimate goal is to help us in our travel forecasting.
“What it does is gives us travel characteristics of our metropolitan area for us to do our traffic forecasting,” he added. “It helps us prioritize projects for the funding we receive.”