Work Zone Mobility and Safety Program
Photo collage: temporary lane closure, road marking installation, cone with mounted warning light, and drum separated work zones.
Office of Operations 21st Century Operations Using 21st Century Technologies

Frequently Asked Questions

A. How will Process Reviews Change as a Result of the Updated Rule?

The updated Rule states that the ultimate objective of the process reviews is to enhance efforts to address safety and mobility on current and future projects. While the basics of process reviews will remain the same, these reviews will also need to include some additional aspects. For example, agencies will now need to use both crash and operational data (level of service, flow, etc.) at the project and procedural levels, which will expand this aspect of process reviews. The new requirement for agencies to identify significant projects may mean that process reviews now include an assessment of the agency's process for determining significant projects and its use of transportation operations and public information strategies for these projects. While agencies were previously required to forward the results of the review to the FHWA Division Administrator for review and approval of the State's annual traffic safety effort, the updated Rule does not include this requirement and instead encourages agencies to include FHWA in the review.

B. How do the process reviews required every 2 years by the updated Rule compare to the annual work zone field reviews required by the former rule? Are they the same? How much does the updated Rule change what is expected?

Some State DOTs use the terms "annual work zone field review" and "process review" interchangeably. Whether the annual work zone field reviews performed under the former rule meet the intent of the process reviews required by the updated Rule depends on what the agency included in its annual field reviews. For some agencies the annual work zone field reviews functioned as work zone traffic control reviews and focused primarily on the traffic control set-ups in a sampling of work zones. These types of reviews are important and useful for making work zone improvements, but they do not cover all the areas that a process review under the updated Rule should cover.

The updated Rule states that, (1) States shall perform process reviews at least every 2 years in order to assess the effectiveness of work zone safety and mobility procedures, and (2) These reviews may include the evaluation of work zone data at the State level, and/or review of randomly selected projects throughout their jurisdictions. The purpose of these process reviews is to use the results to guide improvements in the agency's work zone policy, work zone processes and procedures, data and information resources, and training programs—ultimately enhancing efforts to address safety and mobility on current and future projects. The review team should consist of appropriate personnel representing the different project development stages and the different offices within the State DOT, and FHWA. Other stakeholders can be included as appropriate.

The process review is an opportunity to take a "bird's-eye view" of the agency's overall work zone management efforts to see what is working well, what is not working well and may need adjustments, and to determine how to address any new work zone management challenges that have developed. For example, the agency may review data from a selected set of projects as part of its process review. In reviewing this data, the agency may notice that certain types of projects seem to be having a higher occurrence of crashes than other projects. By looking further into these trends, the agency may determine that some adjustments to its practices would be appropriate, such as changes to standard design specifications for those types of jobs. During a process review an agency might look at a sample of post-construction reports and identify that work zone traffic delays in one part of the region have been more than what were experienced in the past and have been exceeding department goals. As a result, the agency may decide an update to that region's lane closure policy and permitted lane closure times is needed. During a process review an agency may review its training requirements to determine whether they are still adequate.

These are only examples of the types of issues that might be covered in a process review. While each process review should cover a range of issues, the agency needs to determine what issues are most appropriate for a given review.

C. Can I Combine my Process Review with my Work Zone Self Assessment?

It depends. The agency can choose to do the Work Zone Self Assessment (WZ SA) as part of a process review. The WZ SA is a tool intended to help States evaluate their work zone practices, and to help assess work zone practices nationally. The WZ SA consists of a set of 46 questions designed to assist those with work zone management responsibilities in assessing their programs, policies, and procedures against many of the good work zone practices in use today. The questions in the WZ SA address at a high level many areas that are appropriate for a process review, however the WZ SA does not address all the aspects of the Work Zone Safety and Mobility Rule and it does not go into detail/specifics as much as would be appropriate for a process review.

Many agencies annually gather a group to complete the WZ SA and have a group discussion on each of the questions to assess progress and determine the best rating for each item in the WZ SA. This process could lend itself to being expanded into a process review, with the WZ SA being completed as part of the process review. If an agency uses a less-collaborative process for completing its WZ SA, then combining a process review with the WZ SA would likely not meet the needs or intent of the process review requirement. Keep in mind that the WZ SA is done every year and that the process review is required every 2 years.

D. Can the Process Review Done Every 2 Years Cover Only One Focus Area?

No. A work zone process review should address all the areas that influence work zone operations and the agency's whole work zone management program. Every work zone process review should at least briefly cover these basics. For some process reviews an agency may evenly spread its efforts across the whole program, while in other years the agency may briefly cover the whole program and then choose to spend much of its process review focusing on one or two focus areas. If an agency decides to "zero-in" on one or two particular areas of interest or concern in a review, the agency should still cover the basics in that review.

E. What Information Could be Used in a Process Review?

The information used in a process review can come from many sources, including work zone field/traffic control reviews, other field observations, crash reports, post-construction reports, the agency's Work Zone Self Assessment, and other sources. For example, safety and mobility data the agency has collected to track agency work zone performance measures would be useful in a process review. Data from an existing nearby TMC or from a WZ ITS deployed during a road project can provide data to help an agency assess how work zones are performing and how work zone planning and management efforts are working.

Work zone traffic control reviews can be a rich source of information to make use of in conducting a work zone process review. The annual work zone reviews performed under the former rule often functioned as work zone traffic control reviews and focused primarily on the traffic control set-ups in a sampling of work zones. These types of reviews are important and useful for making work zone improvements, however they do not cover all the areas that a process review under the updated Rule should cover.

Office of Operations