a collage of eight photos showing a stakeholder meeting, people boarding a bus, a changeable message sign displaying the message race traffic, cars traversing a roadway where barricades delineate travel lanes, a closed-circuit television camera, a crowd of people standing near a train and traversing a pedestrian overpass, two implementation plans, and three traffic management team personnel gathered around a laptop computer

Managing Travel for Planned Special Events

Chapter Five. Event Operations Planning
Page 2 of 4

Initial Planning Activities  handbook section pertains to transportation engineer, law enforcement officer, and event planning user groups


This section examines key planning initiatives and special considerations in order to help guide the user through the first steps of the event operations planning phase. The event operations planning phase begins with stakeholders establishing a planning framework and schedule. The framework includes forming an event planning team, creating agreements, identifying performance goals and objectives, and deciding on mitigation assessment and approval protocol.

Special considerations evolve from reviewing the event operations characteristics of a particular special event (e.g., risk assessment) in addition to past successes and lessons learned. These considerations weigh heavy on traffic management plan requirements, and stakeholders must address issues affecting community residents and businesses through public outreach efforts early in the planning phase in order to ensure proper mitigation and non-conflict with traffic management plan specifications.

Stakeholder Roles and Coordination

The event planning team handles tasks associated with event-specific operations planning and traffic management plan implementation. Table 5-1 lists the primary responsibilities of the event planning team under the event operations planning phase. The event planning team consists of a diverse group of stakeholders with either event operations or community interest as their primary concern. The success of the event planning team depends on achieving strong coordination among participating team stakeholders.

Table 5-1. Event Planning Team Responsibilities During the Event Operations Planning Phase
  • Perform feasibility study.
  • Develop traffic management plan.
  • Evaluate travel demand management initiatives.
Event Planning Team Establishment

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.

  • The former typically describes event planning teams formed in response to local planned special events affecting few jurisdictions, such as events occurring in rural or urban areas.
  • The latter may occur in metropolitan areas where planned special events happen frequently, thus warranting an on-call event planning team.

A regional transportation committee on special events features stakeholders that have achieved interagency coordination through past, cooperative travel management efforts.

  • Stakeholder representatives have firsthand knowledge of the roles, resources, and capabilities of each committee participant.
  • Stakeholders commonly include traffic operations agencies, law enforcement, transit agencies, event organizers or venue operators, and the media.
  • Committees in metropolitan areas may create task forces for specific planned special event venues or recurring planned special events (e.g., annual fairs, fireworks displays, parades, etc.). The committee or task force generally meets and performs event operations planning tasks on an as-needed basis. The group may also convene regularly (e.g., weekly, monthly, or quarterly) to review program planning efforts for future planned special events.

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.

Table 5-2. Stakeholder Participation in Event Operations Planning, by Products of the Events Planning Team
Feasibility Study
Traffic Management Plan
Travel Demand Management
Input Develop Review Input Develop Review Input Develop Review Promote
Traffic Operations Agency Traffic operations agency stakeholders provide input on the feasibility study. Traffic operations agency stakeholders develop the feasibility study. Traffic operations agency stakeholders review the feasibility study. Traffic operations agency stakeholders provide input on the traffic management plan. Traffic operations agency stakeholders develop the traffic management plan. Traffic operations agency stakeholders review the traffic management plan. Traffic operations agency stakeholders provide input on travel demand management. Traffic operations agency stakeholders develop travel demand management. Traffic operations agency stakeholders review travel demand management. Traffic operations agency stakeholders promote travel demand management.
Law Enforcement empty cell empty cell empty cell Law enforcement stakeholders provide input on the traffic management plan. Law enforcement stakeholders develop the traffic management plan. Law enforcement stakeholders review the traffic management plan. empty cell empty cell empty cell empty cell
Event Organizer Event organizer stakeholders provide input on the feasibility study. empty cell empty cell Event organizer stakeholders provide input on the traffic management plan. Event organizer stakeholders develop the traffic management plan. empty cell empty cell Event organizer stakeholders develop travel demand management. empty cell Event organizer stakeholders promote travel demand management.
Fire and EMS empty cell empty cell empty cell Fire and EMS stakeholders provide input on the traffic management plan. Fire and EMS stakeholders develop the traffic management plan. Fire and EMS stakeholders review the traffic management plan. empty cell empty cell empty cell empty cell
Elected Official empty cell empty cell Elected official stakeholders review the feasibility study. Elected official stakeholders provide input on the traffic management plan. empty cell Elected official stakeholders review the traffic management plan. empty cell empty cell Elected official stakeholders review travel demand management. Elected official stakeholders promote travel demand management.
Transit Agency Transit agency stakeholders provide input on the feasibility study. empty cell empty cell Transit agency stakeholders provide input on the traffic management plan. Transit agency stakeholders develop the traffic management plan. empty cell Transit agency stakeholders provide input on travel demand management. Transit agency stakeholders develop travel demand management. empty cell Transit agency stakeholders promote travel demand management.
Public empty cell empty cell Public stakeholders review the feasibility study. Public stakeholders provide input on the traffic management plan. empty cell Public stakeholders review the traffic management plan. Public stakeholders provide input on travel demand management. empty cell Public stakeholders review travel demand management. empty cell
Private Transportation Consultant empty cell Private transportation consultant stakeholders develop the feasibility study. empty cell Private transportation consultant stakeholders provide input on the traffic management plan. Private transportation consultant stakeholders develop the traffic management plan. empty cell Private transportation consultant stakeholders provide input on travel demand management. Private transportation consultant stakeholders develop travel demand management. empty cell empty cell
Private Traffic Control Contractor empty cell empty cell empty cell Private traffic control contractor stakeholders provide input on the traffic management plan. empty cell empty cell empty cell empty cell empty cell empty cell
Media empty cell empty cell empty cell empty cell empty cell empty cell empty cell empty cell empty cell Media stakeholders promote travel demand management.
Office on Special Events empty cell empty cell Office on special events stakeholders review the feasibility study. empty cell empty cell Office on special events stakeholders review the traffic management plan. empty cell empty cell empty cell empty cell
Emergency Management Agency empty cell empty cell empty cell Emergency management agency stakeholders provide input on the traffic management plan. empty cell Emergency management agency stakeholders review the traffic management plan. empty cell empty cell empty cell empty cell
Regional Organization empty cell empty cell Regional organization stakeholders review the feasibility study. empty cell empty cell Regional organization stakeholders review the traffic management plan. Regional organization stakeholders provide input on travel demand management. Regional organization stakeholders develop travel demand management. Regional organization stakeholders review travel demand management. Regional organization stakeholders promote travel demand management.
Interagency Coordination

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:

  • Participating stakeholders must recognize that the motivations of individual agencies may differ from the event planning team's concerns as a result of their day-to-day responsibilities.
  • Although the event planning team does not have authority over individual stakeholders, the planning team must realize that possible conflicts may exist between the team's objectives and a stakeholder's primary responsibility. Understanding this is key to overcoming such a problem; yet, the team can foster a cooperative spirit among stakeholders by emphasizing that participants own a part of the event planning team's common goals. In turn, team goals and objectives create incentives for individual stakeholders.
  • Stakeholders must remain focused on the goals and objectives of the event planning team in order to effectively support and contribute in the event operations planning process. This includes concentrating on tasks that can be successfully accomplished collectively.

Common barriers to the event planning team's progress include resource constraints and jurisdictional barriers.

  • Resource or funding constraints surface when stakeholders assign a lower priority to the planned special event. In satisfying individual and team goals, stakeholders may have to make temporary project and program sacrifices, in terms of personnel and equipment reassignment, to provide adequate benefits to the event operations planning effort.
  • Jurisdictional barriers arise when two or more stakeholders are unclear on their duties and responsibilities. Do not allow participating agencies to feel left out. At the time of buy-in, the event planning team must indicate which stakeholders are required on an as-needed basis. The team must have the ability to communicate effectively with stakeholders having a peripheral involvement in the overall planning effort.

Risk Assessment

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.

Table 5-3. Summary of Event-Oriented Risk Scenarios
Event-Oriented Risk Example Scenario
Demonstration or protest
  • Any event that is political in nature or invokes social concern.
  • Political conventions and parades
Ticketless event patrons causing overcrowding
  • Sold-out sports championship games
  • Sold-out concerts involving select performers
Fan celebration
  • Response to city or school sports team winning a championship.
Event patron violence
  • Motorcycle rally violence between patrons and/or participants.
Demonstration or Protest

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.

Fan Celebration

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)

Event Patron Violence
photo showing police cruisers and highway maintenance vehicles blocking Nevada State Route 168 at the Nevada-Arizona border

Figure 5-2. Nevada State Route 168 Closure During Motorcycle Rally (Photo courtesy of the Laughlin Free Press)

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.

Performance Goals and Objectives

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.

Table 5-4. Transportation System Operations Performance Objectives for Planned Special Events
User Class Performance Objective
Event patron
  • Minimize travel delay to/from the event.
  • Minimize conflicts between pedestrians and vehicles.
  • Minimize travel safety hazards.
  • Minimize impact of traffic incidents.
  • Disseminate accurate, timely, and consistent traveler information.
  • Increase automation of traffic control.
  • Maximize site access service flow rates.
Non-attendee road user
  • Minimize travel delay on major thoroughfares, freeways and major arterials.
  • Minimize impact on commuter and trucker travel time reliability.
  • Maintain required parking and access for local residents and businesses.
  • Maintain unimpeded access for emergency vehicles.
Transit user
  • Maintain scheduled travel times.
  • Minimize transit bus dwell times.
  • Maintain required transit station parking for non-attendee transit users.

Table 5-5. Measures of Effectiveness for Assessing Performance Objectives
Location Measure of Effectiveness
Venue parking areas
  • Occupancy and turnover rate
  • Arrival and departure service rate
  • Time to clear parking lots
  • Vehicle delay
  • Queue length
Freeways and streets
  • Travel time and delay
  • Traffic volume to capacity ratio
  • Traffic speed
  • Number and location of crashes and other incidents
  • Traffic incident clearance time

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.

Planning Schedule and Deliverables

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:

  • Obtain a completed special event permit application and commence work on the event feasibility study no later than 60 days prior to the event.
  • Start developing the event traffic management plan and obtain all initial public input and recommendations no later than 30 days before the event.
  • Set aside the final 14 days prior to the event for implementation activities in addition to event information dissemination.
a high-level event operations planning schedule for an event planning stakeholder group

Figure 5-3. Event Operations Planning Schedule D

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.

Public Outreach

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.

Example Case Studies

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:

  • The City of Seattle DOT, Seahawks organization, University of Washington, neighboring residents, and other City of Seattle officials conducted formal meetings prior to and during the Seahawks football season to listen to community concerns, report on operations, develop plan modifications, and review performance goal achievement.
  • A hotline was established for local residents to voice concerns and to communicate day-of-event observations.
  • Stakeholders responded by developing carpool parking pricing incentives and establishing new restricted parking zones (RPZ) in residential neighborhoods adjacent to Husky Stadium.
  • The number of parking enforcement officers assigned to patrol the RPZs on the day-of-event increased from 6 to 13, and the Seattle Municipal Court approved an RPZ violation fine increase from $28 to $44 (although a $71 fine was initially proposed).
  • Table 5-6 notes specific performance goals established by the event planning team to evaluate roadway system performance objectives for the 2000 Seattle Seahawks football season.
Table 5-6. Seahawk Football Transportation Management Program Goals and Objectives(6)
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:

  • Participating stakeholders set the following TMP goal: The primary goal, first and foremost, is reducing the number of vehicles, drive-alone and otherwise, associated with game attendance, thereby deflecting the traffic and parking impacts from the adjacent destination neighborhoods and the regional transportation system as a whole. The goals, which are stepped according to the kinds of and anticipated attendance, are expressed in vehicles per thousand attendees.
  • The Mariners organization, City staff, and the public formed the event planning team charged with developing the TMP.
  • The stakeholders focused on meeting numerous performance-based traffic demand mitigation requirements, varying by type of event and attendance levels, set by the Seattle City Council upon issuing a stadium master use permit.
  • First year operation performance goals for Mariner's baseball games ranged from 330 (sell-out) to 345 vehicles per 1000 attendees. The permit specified third year operation and beyond performance goals ranging from 275 (sell-out) to 325 vehicles per 1000 attendees.
  • A top priority for the TMP concerned deflecting special event parking impacts on the surrounding neighborhoods to the Seattle Central Business District.
  • Table 5-7 lists specific measures considered by City officials to minimize on-street parking by event patrons in adjacent neighborhoods.

Table 5-7. Measures Considered in Developing a Neighborhood Parking Management Plan for Seattle's Safeco Field(7)
Parking Management Option
  • Extend parking meter enforcement hours (until at least 10 p.m. and on Sundays).
  • Replace existing meters with smart meters (programmable by season, allowing extended hours during baseball season, for instance).
  • Impose time limits on parking after 6 p.m. with signs (rather than extend meter hours, place 2 hour limits on metered spaces after 6 p.m. and on Sundays).
  • Impose time limits on parking after 6 p.m. with meter hoods.
  • Enforce parking restrictions 7 days per week (8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays).
  • Add new parking meters.
  • Reduce parking meter duration limits (change some 2 hour meters to 1 hour or less).
  • Replace 4 hour and unrestricted spaces with 2-hour spaces.
  • Refine role of City's enforcement officers (add community/public relations function).
  • Assess higher fines for parking infractions in the ballpark neighborhoods.
  • Increase enforcement (additional parking enforcement officers on game days; multiple ticketing).
  • Create residential parking zones.
  • Increase number and/or size of loading zones.
  • Create business parking zones.
  • Discontinue access restrictions that temporarily remove on-street parking (before and after events).
  • Discontinue parking prohibitions for stadium access (before, during, and after events).
  • Parking space delineation in non-metered areas.

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:

  • For residents living within the program area, the City issues one resident parking permit per registered vehicle in addition to one guest permit per resident.
  • The City also makes available guest parking permits for area businesses and churches to allow customers and congregation members to park in legal on-street parking spaces and gain access to off-street business/church parking within the program area.
  • Figure 5-4 shows a sign enforcing the Resident Parking Permit Program.
  • The City has a similar permit program in place for neighborhoods surrounding Wrigley Field, home to baseball's Chicago Cubs.
photo showing a residential street sign that states "no parking during ball games except vehicles displaying resident permits. Tow Zone"

Figure 5-4. Chicago Resident Permit Parking Program Enforcement

Stakeholder Review of Planning Products

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.

Annotated Planning Timeline

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.

Review Process

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:

  • The review process should feature the oversight team monitoring and reviewing plans developed by the event planning team.
  • The oversight team typically consists of mid-to-upper level representatives of transportation agencies and law enforcement in addition to elected officials and ranking officials of other public agencies.
  • A regional organization may assume the duties of an oversight team.
  • Under a formal review process, an event planning team may seek oversight team approval of a feasibility study scope or conceptual traffic management plan prior to commencing work on the final deliverable. Both stakeholder groups interact again to review feasibility study results and final traffic management operations plans.
  • Some jurisdictions have a champion charged with resolving institutional and operations issues affecting travel management for planned special events. These champions have the position to mitigate issues hampering the event operations planning process. Therefore, they should administer the review process.
  • Jurisdictions should have an alternate official ready to replace the current champion should that person resign from present duty.
Performance Standards

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.

Policies and Agreements

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.

Table 5-8. Summary of Policies and Agreements Applicable to Managing Planned Special Events
Item Example Application
Interagency agreement
  • Joint operations policy between stakeholders that establishes a shared role regarding event operations planning and day-of-event travel management.
  • Memorandum of understanding defining stakeholder roles and responsibilities.
  • Mutual-aid agreement facilitating resource sharing and/or reimbursement for services.
Standard street use event routes
  • Routes established under the program planning phase for recurring street use events such as parades and races.
Toll facility congestion policy
  • Suspension of tolls during periods of heavy congestion.
Public-private towing agreement
  • On-call towing and recovery services during a special event.
Interagency 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.

Table 5-9. Components of Interagency Agreements
  • Advance planning duties and responsibilities
  • Day-of-event duties and responsibilities
  • Organization
  • Resource sharing
  • Funding reimbursement mechanisms
Standard Street Use Event Routes

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:

  • Allows reuse of traffic management and operations plans, with minor modifications as necessary.
  • Realizes a cost savings for stakeholders.
  • Allows for the development of standard signs, specific to the event route and associated alternate routes for background traffic, that may be reused for future street use events.
  • Allows event patrons and non-attendee road users to become familiar with traffic patterns during recurring street use events, thus minimizing potential traffic problems on the day-of-event.
Toll Facility Congestion Policy

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:

  • A West Virginia Turnpike policy, enacted in December 2002, allows Turnpike officials to open toll plazas for 15 minutes any time vehicle queues extend at least three miles upstream of the plaza. After the 15-minute period ends, officials can determine whether the queue dispersed or if another 15-minute period is required. Under normal operations, Turnpike officials estimate that a vehicle joining a three-mile queue takes approximately 15 minutes to pass through a toll plaza. Officials noted 15 minor crashes occurred on the Sunday after Thanksgiving in 2002, the Turnpike's busiest day of the year.(11)
  • State legislators in Maryland debated a proposed bill in 2003 to create a similar policy for the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.(12) The bill specifies suspending tolls if a traffic queue extends more than five miles upstream of the toll plaza and is moving at less than 30 miles per hour. The increasing deployment of electronic tolling may obviate the need for these strategies in the future.
Public-Private Towing Agreement

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.