Managing Travel for Planned Special Events
Chapter Five. Event Operations
An event planning team forms as a result of either: (1) coordination among traffic operations agencies, transit agencies, law enforcement agencies, and event organizers that represent the core event planning team stakeholders or (2) designation by a committee on special events within a regional transportation management organization, such as a traffic incident management program.
A regional transportation committee on special events features stakeholders that have achieved interagency coordination through past, cooperative travel management efforts.
Prior to initiating the event operations planning process, the core event planning team should adopt a mission, or purpose, and solicit buy-in from public agency stakeholders, the community, and other event support stakeholders. In identifying pertinent jurisdictions, the event planning team may consider contacting stakeholders within a certain distance (e.g., five miles) of the event venue. The event planning team can obtain buy-in from community interest stakeholders more easily when a core group of stakeholders already exists, including public agencies. Elected officials and the public can serve as advocates for the event planning team; therefore, participation from these stakeholders should occur early in the event operations planning phase.
Table 5-2 indicates the typical function of each participating stakeholder in generating the primary products of the event operations planning phase. A list of stakeholders is referenced to the three products produced: (1) feasibility study, (2) traffic management plan, and (3) travel demand management. Stakeholders contribute data, communicate needs, and/or furnish resources. Often, certain agencies promote initiatives developed by the event planning team, such as travel demand management strategies.
Traffic Management Plan
Travel Demand Management
|Traffic Operations Agency|
|Fire and EMS|
|Private Transportation Consultant|
|Private Traffic Control Contractor|
|Office on Special Events|
|Emergency Management Agency|
In establishing an event planning team, the core stakeholders must develop a working trust with each other. This trust results when stakeholders realize that a planned special event necessitates the same relationships cultivated in daily traffic and incident management.
A joint operations policy or other memoranda of understanding strengthens the cooperative bond among core stakeholders. These agreements identify common goals and responsibilities of the partnering agencies.
Consensus among stakeholders builds interagency coordination and an understanding of each agency's responsibility. Key elements to consider include:
Common barriers to the event planning team's progress include resource constraints and jurisdictional barriers.
Based on the type and purpose of a planned special event, there exists potential scenarios where event patron or non-attendee behavior may cause overcrowded conditions in the vicinity of an event venue and/or create unplanned road closures. The event planning team must assess the nature of a proposed event and determine the need to incorporate special contingency plans in response to potentially dangerous situations that will interfere with the planned travel management on the day-of-event.
Table 5-3 lists four notable event-oriented risk scenarios associated with some planned special events. This section further describes these scenarios and highlights example case studies that illustrate resulting impacts on advance planning and/or day-of-event operations. Chapter 6 provides detailed guidance on contingency planning in addition to the development of specific strategies (e.g., alternate route plans) needed to effectively respond to certain unplanned scenarios.
|Event-Oriented Risk||Example Scenario|
|Demonstration or protest||
|Ticketless event patrons causing overcrowding||
|Event patron violence||
Certain political or socially controversial planned special events may provoke a demonstration or protest. Those attending the demonstration represent non-attendees, and the event planning team often has little or no advance information regarding the demonstration's specific location and time of occurrence. The event planning team should obtain access to relevant law enforcement intelligence reports regarding potential demonstrations to develop an effective travel management contingency plan. The threat of an unplanned road closure should prompt the event planning team to consider developing an alternate route contingency plan detailing the personnel and equipment resources necessary to effect an immediate diversion of traffic.
Appendix B contains a contingency diversion routing plan prepared in response to the potential for demonstrations during the 2000 Republican National Convention in Philadelphia, PA.
The occurrence of sports championship games or major concerts at venues having a defined sell-out capacity may attract ticketless event patrons not accounted for in event travel forecasts and impact mitigation strategies. Events such as the Super Bowl or National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Final Four cause an increase in area visitors beyond the actual event participants and patrons. Sold-out music festivals may attract persons wanting to tailgate in venue parking areas despite not having a ticket.
For instance, event planners originally anticipated 200,000 people to attend a two-day Grateful Dead reunion concert at a 35,000 seat amphitheater in rural East Troy, WI, located approximately 30 miles southeast of Milwaukee. The Walworth County Highway Committee initially denied the event organizer a permit to hold the two concerts. After the event organizer unveiled a comprehensive security and traffic management plan that included using advance checkpoints to turn away any vehicle that contained a ticketless occupant, county executives overturned their decision and issued a permit.(1) Appendix B contains a list of restrictions imposed by the event organizer and event planning team to prevent ticketless event patrons from gaining access to the venue parking areas.
Another severe impact risk associated with sports championship games involves fan celebrations that occur when a city sports team wins a championship at home. In this case, the traffic management team charged with managing travel during event egress must also mitigate traffic impacts caused by non-attendees converging on the venue site and unruly fans disrupting traffic and pedestrian flow.
For instance, the Detroit Red Wings won the 2002 Stanley Cup in Detroit. Operating from past experience, the Michigan State Police began closing portions of Interstate 75 and the Lodge Freeway (State Route 10) leading to downtown Detroit and the event venue. This contingency plan went into effect at the start of the final period of play with Detroit leading the championship clinching game.(2) Contingency plan details were even posted in advance on Red Wings' fan websites. Located approximately 16 miles north of the event venue, Royal Oak police and city officials maintained road closure contingency plans to accommodate the thousands of fans that went to the popular clubs and bars to celebrate the home team win.(3)
An outbreak of violence among event patrons warrants special security precautions to contain and capture potential suspects. Law enforcement may initiate a road closure as a first response to discourage people from entering and leaving the region where the violence took place.
During the 2002 Laughlin, NV River Run motorcycle rally, attended by tens of thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts, a multiple homicide occurred after a clash between rival motorcycle gangs. In an effort to capture the homicide suspects, Nevada officials closed all highways and arterials serving Laughlin, including Nevada State Route 163 at the Nevada/Arizona border as shown in Figure 5-2. Trucks traveling U.S. 93, a North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) designated trucking corridor, traverse State Route 163 because of prohibitions on crossing the Hoover Dam. Law enforcement maintained the road closures for a few hours.(4) A possible traffic management contingency plan prepared in advance of the described security incident would specify a regional alternate route plan coupled with regional traveler information.
The goals of managing travel for planned special events include achieving predictability, ensuring safety, and maximizing efficiency. Table 5-4 states performance objectives, for the previously defined classes of transportation system users, applicable to satisfying the overall goal of operations efficiency and safety. In meeting these performance objectives, the event planning team must target the goal of achieving predictability during the event operations planning phase. Table 5-5 presents common, easy-to-measure measures of effectiveness for assessing the performance objectives that describe traffic operations. The event planning team should consider field studies to quantify existing MOEs at key roadways and intersections to calibrate capacity analysis software and computer simulation models applied during traffic management plan development. The identified MOEs represent day-of-event performance evaluation data, useful for: (1) making real-time adjustments to the traffic management plan on the day-of-event, (2) conducting a post-event evaluation of transportation system performance, and (3) referencing during advance planning for future event occurrences.
|User Class||Performance Objective|
|Non-attendee road user||
|Location||Measure of Effectiveness|
|Venue parking areas||
|Freeways and streets||
NCHRP Synthesis 311, Performance Measures of Operational Effectiveness for Highway Segments and Systems, reports on the state-of-the-practice of using performance measures for the monitoring and operational management of highway segments and systems.(5) It assesses the relative strengths and weaknesses of various performance measures. Based on a survey of current agency practice, the synthesis reports that performance measures associated with planned special event management are similar to traffic and incident management, but may also include performance measures related to clearance times (e.g., time for vehicles to clear a venue site area) and parking management measures.
Two deliverables, produced by the event planning team during the event operations planning phase, include the feasibility study and the traffic management plan, designed to mitigate impacts identified in the feasibility study. Travel demand management represents a key component of the overall process when forecasted traffic demand levels approach or exceed available roadway capacity.
The previous chapter outlined a detailed special event permit process and identified advance planning deadlines applicable to the event organizer. In turn, Figure 5-3 illustrates a high-level event operations planning schedule for an event planning stakeholder group. The figure lists advance planning activities and potential stakeholder meetings and public hearings in a timeline relative to the planning deliverables. The schedule indicates other stakeholder planning initiatives, such as the development of a specialized transit plan to reduce event traffic demand.
The event planning team should:
The planning schedule provides a generic timeline, recognizing that actual event operations planning schedules vary considerably. For instance, some major, roving planned special events, such as the U.S. Golf Open, require an event operations planning phase spanning more than one year.
Planned special events that may impact adjacent neighborhoods and businesses usually require public involvement to address related concerns. The public represents individual residents, businesses, and associated community groups. Public outreach activities initiated early in the event operations planning phase can reveal important issues that local residents and businesses may have. Soliciting these concerns through public involvement, and addressing the issues in the planning process, can improve relations and day-of-event operations.
Street use events or other planned special events that take place at venues located adjacent to residential and/or commercial districts may significantly impact non-attendee mobility and community quality of life. Specific neighborhood impact issues include heavy traffic demand on local streets and event patron use of available local on-street parking. These issues arise because, in some instances, event patrons may find on-street parking in residential neighborhoods and business districts affords more convenient ingress and egress. In addition, illegal parking fines may not exceed, or significantly exceed, the fee charged at designated venue parking areas.
Initiation of public outreach efforts includes stakeholders, such as a traffic operations agency or law enforcement, holding initial and regular meetings with community groups and local elected officials. At these meetings, the event planning team should present the scope of the event in enough detail to solicit quality input and buy-in from public stakeholders. Concerns revealed in this process should be addressed, and feasible solutions presented, so that the public stakeholders feel assured that impacts will be mitigated to their satisfaction.
The event planning team and public stakeholders should identify potential problems prior to the development of the traffic management plan. These problems can be identified by first understanding the event scope with consideration given to current neighborhood traffic and parking restrictions, traffic management plans deployed during past planned special events, and identified problems experienced during past events. With this information, the public stakeholders can make informed decisions and provide valuable input to the event planning team.
Innovative strategies developed by the cities of Seattle and Chicago to minimize neighborhood traffic and parking impacts during discrete/recurring events at a permanent venue are highlighted in three case studies summarized below. It should be recognized that an event planning team can implement these strategies on a temporary basis for less frequent continuous events and street use events.
Case Study One: University of Washington. Due to the construction of a new football stadium, the Seattle Seahawks moved their scheduled 2000 and 2001 home games to the University of Washington's Husky Stadium. Recognizing the Seahawks represented a new and different stadium user with unique characteristics, the City of Seattle required development of a Seahawk Football Transportation Management Program.(6)
Key strategies included:
|Goal||Measure||Measured Performance||Goal Met?|
|Travel reduction||No more than 195 cars/1000 attendees||182 cars/1000 attendees||Yes|
|Travel time||Within 5% of Husky game travel times||-0.1% to 4.7% different than for Husky games||Yes|
|Duration of post-game traffic||Equal to or less than after Husky games||35 minutes less||Yes|
Case Study Two: Safeco Field in Seattle, WA. Safeco Field, home to baseball's Seattle Mariners, was constructed in 1999 and borders three neighborhoods. Recognizing the residential and business needs of these neighborhoods, the City of Seattle developed an Inaugural Season Transportation Management Program (TMP) for events at the stadium venue.(7)
Key strategies included:
|Parking Management Option|
Case Study Three: U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, IL. The City of Chicago DOT maintains a Resident Parking Permit Program to preserve legal on-street parking for residents of neighborhoods surrounding U.S. Cellular Field during all Chicago White Sox baseball games.(8)
Key elements of the Resident Parking Permit Program include:
The previous chapter summarized various criteria for planned special event permit approval. However, as indicated in Figure 5-3, the event operations planning phase includes intermediate and final review periods for the event feasibility study and traffic management plan.
Stakeholder review concentrates on the identification and proposed mitigation of event travel impacts. Effective and rapid stakeholder review of event operations planning products requires: (1) an annotated planning timeline, (2) a review process, and (3) performance standards.
In cases where an event planning team collectively develops a feasibility study, traffic management plan, and associated mitigation strategies, an annotated planning timeline proves effective for monitoring team progress.
The Wisconsin DOT found such a tool useful for tracking specific traffic management planning and infrastructure deployment activities required to prepare for the opening of Miller Park in Milwaukee. The agency maintained a responsibility matrix listing each action item, the stakeholder responsible, the due date, and the present deployment status. An event planning team should establish an annotated planning timeline early in the event operations planning phase and use the tool to guide subsequent team meeting agendas as stakeholders develop event impact mitigation strategies and tactics.
Adopting a formal review process reduces unnecessary delay in producing event operations planning deliverables required to stage a planned special event. Key aspects to be considered include:
This chapter included a review of various transportation system operations performance objectives and associated measures of effectiveness that stakeholders may use to monitor system performance on the day-of-event and, in turn, evaluate travel management efforts. During the event operations planning phase, stakeholders must set and agree to performance standards used to assess traffic impact mitigation proposals. These performance standards typically represent level of service (LOS) measures applicable to freeway and street segments, freeway junctions, and roadway intersections. Stakeholders assigned to develop mitigation strategies or review planned special event impacts on traffic should reference jurisdiction Traffic Impact Study guidelines defining accepted LOS thresholds. The LOS thresholds likely vary by roadway classification. In urban and metropolitan areas, jurisdictions may deem an LOS D, describing high-density stable flow, acceptable for freeways, arterials, and major intersections. Similarly, an LOS C, describing stable flow, may represent the allowable threshold for local streets and intersections. Small urban and rural areas may have more stringent requirements. Jurisdictions may relax their performance standards and allow LOS E operation, describing unstable capacity flow, on major roadway facilities for infrequent planned special events.
The establishment of special policies and agreements to support planning and day-of-event management of planned special events facilitates efficient stakeholder collaboration and defines important event support stakeholder services that may be incorporated into a traffic management plan for a particular planned special event. These initiatives improve interagency relationships, clarify decision-making responsibilities and expectations, and secure on-call services and agency actions. For instance, a particular policy or agreement may intuitively support a contingency response plan to mitigate unanticipated congestion delay on the day-of-event. Stakeholders may develop policies and agreements specific to a particular planned special event or for all planned special events in a region. Because of the potential significant time to develop and approve a particular policy or agreement, stakeholders should establish these initiatives early in the event operations planning phase or during the program planning phase.
Table 5-8 summarizes four types of policies and agreements involving stakeholders responsible for event operations planning and/or day-of-event operations.
|Standard street use event routes||
|Toll facility congestion policy||
|Public-private towing agreement||
Interagency agreements include a joint operations policy, memorandum of understanding, or mutual-aid agreement between two or more stakeholders. Table 5-9 lists components of interagency agreements. Appendix C contains an Illinois and Washington State joint operations policy, between state DOT and state police, that covers special event planning.(9,10) Stakeholders may also strike an interagency agreement, during the event operations planning phase, applicable to a specific planned special event.
The development and use of standard street use event routes reduces the level and complexity of event operations planning tasks and overall planning time. In establishing such standard routes for parades and/or street races, stakeholders simplify planning tasks, thus creating a more efficient event operations planning process. The routes specify appropriate event starting and ending points coupled with staging areas for participant assembly and disbanding.
Use of a standard street use event route offers the following advantages:
Suspension of toll collections on turnpikes and other toll facilities during periods of heavy congestion represents a new policy concept aimed at reducing congestion and the occurrence of traffic incidents at toll plazas. A toll facility congestion policy represents a congestion mitigation strategy applicable to planned special events. Both West Virginia and Maryland have experience with this policy:
Private towing companies perform a specific functional activity in traffic incident management, that is, removal of disabled or wrecked vehicles, spilled cargo, and debris from an incident site. Law enforcement and traffic operations agencies alike have recognized the indispensable role private towing companies have in effecting incident removal and restoring the affected road section back to normal operation. Public agencies commonly enter into agreements with one or more commercial towing companies to secure on-call traffic incident clearance services, or at a minimum, the agencies maintain a contact list of local private towing companies.
Traffic incident management represents a key consideration in event operations planning. Event planning team stakeholders may establish event-specific public-private towing agreements to secure on-site towing and recovery services. For instance, the City of Cincinnati has established, under the City rules and regulations for police rotation wreckers, a special event tow category.(13) The City defines a special event tow as "when tow operator remains with police officer for a specified period of time towing or moving vehicles as need arises." The City regulation specifies a special event tow rate of $20.00 per tow or $35.00 per hour, whichever is greater.