The pandemic has shifted how people have traveled and while we are starting to get back to pre-pandemic travel habits, we are not exactly there yet.

Traffic on state highways was down at the end of 2021, says Steward Anderson of the Iowa DOT in a report today to the Transportation Commission.

Did drop a bit in December, we were about two percent below the December 2019 levels. So again, still hovering right around our levels from pre-COVID.

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This is the pattern that DOT also noticed in railway traffic and Anderson says they saw coal growth playing a role in this..

January was down three percent from January 2021 rail carload levels. That is driven really across the board. The one sector that has shown some growth herein recent months is on the coal side. We are seeing with the high natural gas prices some shifting to coal, which is doing a little bit of a rebound from a long-term trend of being down for the amount of coal being shipped on the rail system.

And with grain shipments continuing to be strong, it helps maintain that need for railroads.

They're lower than January of 2021 -- but January '21 was a really high point -- it was the highest since 2015 in terms of the amount of grain shipped on rail, 2022 was the second-highest since 2015. So, still pretty good news on our grain shipment.

Iowa’s agricultural commodities rely on railroad transportation to ship products across the state and country. Without the railroad, the profitability of many industries would decline.

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