Work Zone Mobility and Safety Program
Photo collage: temporary lane closure, road marking installation, cone with mounted warning light, and drum separated work zones.
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Work Zone Traffic Management Resources and Examples

A sign with text "Notice" with yellow background, below that text "Speed Photo Enforced" with grey background, and below that text "Work Zone" with orange backgroud.

Resources

Behavior Study of Merge Practices for Drivers at Work Zone Closures

This Midwest Transportation Consortium report (PDF 3MB) describes the findings of a study to identify which driver behaviors are the most detrimental to traffic flow and safety during work zone lane closures. The report recommends traffic control techniques to prevent these behaviors, such as late merge to prevent queue jumpers and longitudinal rumble strips to discourage vehicles from straddling the closing and merging lanes.

Developing and Implementing Transportation Management Plans for Work Zones

This document (HTML, PDF 1.4MB), developed by FHWA, provides information about developing and implementing Transportation Management Plans (TMPs), including how and where a TMP fits into project delivery processes, possible components of a TMP, descriptions of work zone management strategies, and examples of how agencies are using TMPs.

Michigan Department of State Police

The Michigan State Police Traffic Management Guide (PDF 71KB) assists law enforcement professionals in effectively managing local traffic problems and documenting the results.

NCHRP Synthesis 413: Techniques for Effective Highway Construction Projects in Congested Urban Areas

NCHRP Synthesis 413 (PDF 5.1MB) identifies strategies and successful practices used by transportation agencies to deal effectively with the challenges and impacts of construction projects in congested urban corridors. Includes a chapter dedicated to traffic management strategies.

New Jersey Department of Transportation

The New Jersey DOT (NJDOT) Traffic Mitigation Guidelines for Work Zone Safety and Mobility (PDF 1MB) provides guidance for traffic mitigation for NJDOT roadway reconstruction projects. The document lays out a process for integrating traffic management into project development, beginning with assessing the level of traffic mitigation needed for a project and estimating order of magnitude costs for traffic mitigation. It then provides guidelines for selecting traffic mitigation strategies and suggested measures and procedures for monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of the strategies. The document includes tables that describe categories of traffic mitigation strategies for different project types and characteristics, and a flow chart that illustrates traffic mitigation steps by project development phase.

Ohio Department of Transportation

The Ohio DOT (ODOT) Traffic Management in Work Zones web page provides processes and resources for work zone traffic management, such as permitted lane closure times, a maintenance of traffic (MOT) alternatives analysis process, and sample documents.

ODOT developed a process to monitor work zone crashes in near real-time. ODOT obtains work zone crash reports from local law enforcement and inputs this information into a database that sorts crashes into one-half-mile segments for comparison to historical pre-construction average crash frequency. When abnormally high concentrations of crashes occur in a certain location after implementation of a work zone, ODOT performs a field visit to look for causes and potential fixes. Work Zone Crash Analysis and Traffic Management in Work Zones – the ODOT MOT Process (PPT 2.3MB), a presentation by David Holstein, P. E., ODOT State Traffic Engineer, further describes this process.

Oregon Department of Transportation

To keep traffic and freight moving during roadwork, Oregon DOT (ODOT) instituted a statewide traffic mobility program to forecast, manage, and track potential mobility conflicts, resolve issues, and coordinate efforts. Key work zone related components of the program include:

  • Minimizing construction-related vehicle delay through the establishment and enforcement of delay threshold limits in key highway corridors.
  • Considering mobility constraints up front and designing for issues, detours, and mobility needs, rather than trying to accommodate them after design and right before bid.
  • Developing a methodology and online analysis tool for estimating and managing project and corridor work zone delays and using it to help design projects with acceptable impacts as much as possible.
  • Developing and implementing Traffic Management Plans for the overall program, for key highway corridors, and for individual projects.

ODOT's Highway Mobility Operations Manual contains all of the mobility requirements for projects on Oregon highways. The manual spells out how traffic delays and size and weight restrictions will be addressed on a statewide basis. ODOT provided training to agency staff and stakeholders on the manual.

Reducing Congestion – Good Work Zone Management Strategies that Can Help

This webinar, given on February 17, 2005, included presentations given by FHWA, the Ohio DOT, and Caltrans.

Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada FAST Dashboard

The Freeway and Arterial System of Transportation (FAST) Dashboard is Southern Nevada's freeway performance monitoring and management system. It enables the Nevada DOT to evaluate operational issues related to work zones, incidents, special events, and daily recurring congestion, and the effectiveness of activities to manage the impacts. It also enables the public to view real-time and historical travel time and performance information in a variety of user-selectable and user-customizable displays.

TMP Development Resources and Example TMPs

This page provides resources, guidance, and example TMPs from FHWA and several State agencies to assist in the development of an effective transportation management plan.

Treating Potential Back of Queue Safety Hazards

This document (PDF 3.4MB), developed under the FHWA Work Zone Safety Grants Program, highlights methods to analyze work zone impacts and queue lengths and provides strategies to mitigate potential back-of-queue hazards. A self-paced online training module, based on the document, is also available.

Use of Exposure Control Measures

This document, developed under the FHWA Work Zone Safety Grants Program, describes the various types of exposure control measures and discusses how each can improve the safety of workers and motorists in work zones. The document offers recommended practices and describes effective strategies that can be used during planning and construction to help mitigate safety concerns. The use of exposure control measures should be considered in the context of the overall TMP for a project.

Work Zone Impacts Assessment: An Approach to Assess and Manage Work Zone Safety and Mobility Impacts of Road Projects

This document (HTML, PDF 10 MB), developed by FHWA, presents a general approach for work zone impacts assessment and provides examples of how agencies are currently assessing and managing work zone impacts.

Examples

Michigan Department of Transportation

The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) focuses on corridors in the region as one, single unit rather than looking at individual projects, to ensure they are meeting customers' needs and expectations for mobility, especially on long trips. They call this their "One Corridor Focus." MDOT began this focus in 2011 after long-distance travelers such as truck drivers experienced lengthy delays due to 19 concurrent projects on I-94, and as a result of the initiation of the Great Lakes Regional Transportation Operations Coalition (GLRTOC). GLRTOC is made up of agencies that handle transportation operations on the major routes connecting Minneapolis to Toronto, and was formed to collaborate on initiatives that improve cross-regional transportation operations, including work zones.

One Corridor focuses on setting overall corridor delay thresholds, monitoring for the thresholds, and implementing standards to be applied to all projects within the corridor. Standards include closing the left lane first whenever possible, adopting a minimum 11 foot temporary lane width (12 foot preferred), adopting a standard of 2 foot minimum paved shoulder outside of the painted line during construction, and setting guidelines for the use of emergency gates and towing services when needed. By setting standards across all work zones in a corridor, MDOT hopes to make work zones consistent and reliable for motorists, help maintain reasonable speeds, and reduce crashes. MDOT is also implementing other measures, including more robust and consistent corridor messaging through portable message signs, permanent travel time displays at critical decision points for motorists, automated corridor delay measurement, and corridor-level project web sites.

New York State Department of Transportation

In September 2012, the Governor of New York initiated the ‘Drivers First’ initiative, a new approach to prioritize the convenience of motorists and ensure that disruptions are as minimal as possible to drivers at highway and bridge projects across the state. To kick off the initiative, the Governor directed the New York State DOT (NYSDOT) to adjust the construction schedule on the Twin Bridges repair project to ensure the bridge opens both lanes to traffic Sunday at noon, instead of early Monday morning and thereby reduce disruption and delays for drivers. In addition, the Governor has directed NYSDOT to undertake a thorough review of all state highway and bridge repair projects to ensure that disruptions are as minimal as possible to motorists. To ensure that future projects prioritize the convenience of New York drivers, the Governor has also directed NYSDOT to include in its primary criteria for awarding contracts a requirement that all construction schedules are designed to cause as few disruptions for motorists as possible.

North Carolina Department of Transportation

The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) is in the midst of a $125 million project to widen seven miles of heavily traveled I-85 in Charlotte from four lanes to eight. The design-build project, which began in the fall of 2011 and is scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2013, includes construction of two diverging diamond interchanges (DDIs) and associated "superstreet" improvements for interchanges with two major roadways. Due to the high volume of daily traffic traveling through the project area NCDOT was concerned about maintenance of traffic during construction and impacts to motorists. The project team has focused on preserving the safety of motorists, minimizing impacts to traffic operations while providing necessary access for construction equipment, and promoting an efficient construction process.

To maintain traffic at its normal pattern during construction of the DDIs, the contractors used temporary pavement and wedging to maintain ramp ties. Once the DDIs are complete a short road closure will be required to shift traffic to the new pattern. To minimize the impacts of moving materials and equipment, the project team installed a temporary access bridge over I-85 with ramps to the median allowing access to the construction site and ease of access to the construction area by emergency-services personnel for incident response. Phase 1 of the project involves building new lanes on the median side; the temporary access bridge and median ramps are located near the center of the project so construction vehicles do not have to enter traffic to access the median area. Phase 2 of the project includes mainline construction; northbound and southbound traffic will be placed on the newly constructed median lanes while construction progresses on the outer portions of I-85. During Phase 2, the median access ramp will be removed, but the temporary bridge will remain to provide construction access to the northbound lanes, while southbound access will be made directly from the material staging yard. As a result of these innovative maintenance of traffic strategies, there has been limited impact to the approximately 140,000 vehicles travelling through the work area each day.

Pennsylvania Department of Transportation

In 2002, the Pennsylvania DOT (PennDOT) began a major reconstruction project on the I-279 Fort Pitt Bridge and Tunnel in the city of Pittsburgh. With heavy traffic on the bridge and tunnel, closing the structures and detouring motorists would not be easy. PennDOT studied how best to complete the work and began planning detour routes in the early 1980s, well before the project began. PennDOT decided to perform various stages of the project separately in an effort to minimize the impact a total closure would have on the region. The last phase of the project involved work on the main bridge span and the tunnel. Closing off the main span of the bridge and the tunnel required the use of two main detour routes that already carried large volumes of traffic. With this in mind, PennDOT began reconstruction and rehabilitation work on the detour routes almost 10 years before the closures occurred. During the closures, PennDOT implemented many innovative strategies to reduce congestion and delay on the detour routes, including turning off traffic signals to create free-flow routes, expanding lane reversal hours, and opening a hole through an existing concrete barrier to prevent motorists from having to merge into a single lane when exiting a tunnel. An article published in the December 2007 issue of Roads & Bridges, "Holding Down the Fort," by Frank Cippel, provides more information.

Utah Department of Transportation

The I-15 CORE project is the largest road construction project in Utah history and involves rebuilding 24 miles of I-15 in Utah County over 2.5 years, with completion expected in December 2012. UDOT has placed high emphasis on minimizing impacts to the traveling public, understanding that I-15 is the only freeway system in the county. In order to minimize delays for local motorists, UDOT worked with contractors to develop an innovative approach to provide real time arterial traffic information during the project. This involved installing a monitoring system along nearby arterial routes, which uses anonymous vehicle data obtained from travel time detectors to measure actual traffic flow conditions. UDOT's Traffic Operations Center collects and analyzes the data, then updates and displays current travel time information every six minutes on variable message signs along the I-15 corridor and the I-15 CORE web site to provide motorists with current information comparing local road travel times versus freeway travel times. Motorists are directed to take the least congested routes either I-15 or the state road US-89, leading to a reduction in delays, stops, emissions, and the number and severity of traffic incidents. The intent is to leave this system in place even after construction is complete.

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