Photos of cars on freeway, speeding sign

Freeway Management and Operations Handbook

Chapter 11 – Planned Special Event Management

11.1 Introduction

A planned special event is a public attended activity or series of activities, with a scheduled time and location that may increase or disrupt the normal flow of traffic on affected streets or highways.

Planned special events include sporting events, concerts, festivals, and conventions occurring at permanent multi-use venues (e.g., arenas, stadiums, race tracks, fair grounds, amphitheaters, convention centers, etc.). They also include less frequent public events such as parades, fireworks displays, bicycle races, sporting games, motorcycle rallies, seasonal festivals, and milestone celebrations at temporary venues. The term planned special event is used to describe these activities because of their known locations, scheduled times of occurrence, and associated operating characteristics. Emergencies, such as a severe weather event or other major catastrophe, represent special events that can induce extreme traffic demand under an evacuation condition. However, these events occur at random and with little or no advance warning, thus differing from "planned" special events. (Freeway management during such emergencies and evacuations is discussed in the next chapter).

A planned special event represents a trip generator; thus the impact an event has on transportation system operations as a whole must be examined. This includes freeway operations, arterial and other surface street operations, transit operations, and pedestrian flow. Unlike roadway construction activities or traffic incidents that impact travel within a single corridor, a planned special event impacts all corridors serving the event venue location.

11.1.1 Purpose of Chapter

The FHWA technical reference Managing Travel for Planned Special Events (Reference 1) presents and recommends various planning initiatives, operations strategies, and technology applications that satisfy the special customer requirements and stakeholder performance requirements driving planned special event travel management. This chapter summarizes that reference, highlighting the essential elements involved in managing traffic during planned special events.

Reference 1 guides users through all phases of managing travel for planned special events, from the earliest planning stage through post-event activities, via the provision of recommended procedures, flowcharts, tables, and checklists. The technical reference bridges the gap between the state-of-the-practice and state-of-the-art in managing travel for planned special events by providing:

  • A framework for establishing a stakeholder coordinated and integrated planned special event management practice and
  • Innovative techniques for enhancing the efficiency and applicability of current agency event-specific plans.

Reference 1 is aimed at assisting responsible agencies in managing the ever-increasing number of planned special events impacting transportation system operations in rural, urban, and metropolitan areas. It communicates to a wide audience that includes the novice planned special event practitioner, the experienced planned special event practitioner, the local, single-jurisdiction event planner and operations manager, and the regional, multi-jurisdiction event planner and operations manager.

Reference 2 (NCHRP Synthesis 309: Transportation Planning and Management for Special Events) reports on the state-of-the-practice of transportation-related activities associated with the planning and management of special events.

11.1.2 Relationship to Other Freeway Management Activities

Freeways are often the primary corridor flow routes that serve event patrons and participants destined to / from a planned special event and various areas of a region and beyond. These corridor flow routes connect to local, street-level flow routes that, in turn, serve event venue parking areas. A freeway interchange marks a point of connection between corridor flow routes and local flow routes.

The main objective of freeway management during planned special events is to minimize freeway mainline congestion. Freeway management and operations strategies implemented in response to local traffic flow or ramp operation degradation preserve freeway mainline operations. Freeway management for planned special events involves interchange operations and metering (Chapter 7), traveler information dissemination (Chapter 13), transportation management centers (Chapter 14), and traffic surveillance (Chapter 15). Other keys to success include achieving regional operations collaboration and cooperation (Chapter 16), deploying managed lanes (Chapter 8) to improve freeway safety and operations efficiency, and implementing traffic incident management (Chapter 10) techniques and strategies. Moreover, like all programs and activities that are intended to improve the operation of the transportation network, the performance of a traffic incident management program should be regularly monitored and assessed (Chapter 4), potentially resulting in changes and refinements.

11.2 Current Practices, Methods, Strategies, and Technologies

11.2.1 Overview

Planned special events pose a unique and diverse set of challenges to stakeholders charged with maintaining transportation system safety, mobility, and reliability. These challenges include:

  • Managing intense travel demand,
  • Mitigating potential capacity constraints,
  • Influencing the utility associated with various travel choices, and
  • Accommodating heavy pedestrian flow.

Managing travel for planned special events encompasses both a local and regional level. The local level involves managing travel for one planned special event. The regional perspective concerns proactively improving travel management for all planned special events occurring in a region where, in most major U.S. metropolitan areas, hundreds of planned special events occur annually.

The goals of managing travel for planned special events involve achieving predictability, ensuring safety, and maximizing efficiency. The characteristics of a planned special event that define the level of event-generated trips, coupled with the event venue location and scope of available transportation system capacity, collectively may yield unpredictable impacts on travel without proper planning and analysis. Operations, with safety an overarching criteria, during the event can improve transportation system efficiency of operation. With the foreknowledge of a planned special event and the early initiation of planning efforts, practitioners can achieve efficient transportation system operations even with the additional traffic generated at and adjacent to the event venue.

The successful implementation of a transportation management plan for planned special events results in lessened traffic congestion and improved safety for event patrons and other transportation system users. Successful transportation management also maintains satisfactory mobility levels for residents and businesses in the vicinity of the event venue and preserves the overall reliability of the local and regional transportation system. Achieving this success requires the involvement of both transportation system operators and other stakeholders, representing various interests and disciplines, to meet the needs of the community and region. Planned Special Event Classification

A planned special event impacts the transportation system by generating an increase in travel demand in addition to possibly causing a reduction in roadway capacity because of event staging. The first step toward achieving an accurate prediction of event-generated travel demand and potential transportation system capacity constraints involves gaining an understanding of the event characteristics and how they affect transportation operations. In turn, practitioners can classify the planned special event in order to draw comparisons between the subject event and similar historical events to shape travel forecasts and gauge transportation impacts. Figure 11-1 shows typical operational characteristics of a planned special event. Each characteristic represents a variable that greatly influences the scope of event operation and its potential impact on the transportation system.

diagram showing eight categories of special event operations variables

Figure 11-1: Special Event Operations Characteristics D

Five categories of planned special events, and their general characteristics, are listed in Table 11-1. The table also indicates major event examples that require significant advance planning and stakeholder coordination to efficiently manage transportation system operations.

Table 11-1: Planned Special Event Categories and Characteristics (Reference 1)
Special Event Category Event Operations Characteristic Major Event Example
Discrete/recurring event at permanent venue
  • Time specific duration.
  • Specific starting and predictable ending times.
  • High peak arrival rates.
  • Weekday event occurrences.
  • Known venue capacity.
  • Advance ticket sales.
  • Capacity attendance events, such as football games and auto races, at large stadium venues.
  • Events occurring during periods of high background traffic demand.
  • Events occurring at venues under reconstruction where a significant portion of venue parking cannot be utilized.
  • Sports championship or other events having a national scope.
Continuous event
  • Occurs over single or multiple days.
  • Event patrons arrive and depart through the event day.
  • Does not exhibit sharp peak arrival and peak departure rates.
  • Capacity of venue not always known.
  • Occurs at temporary venues, parks, or fixed venues.
  • High attendance events in downtown areas.
  • Events occurring at temporary venues that have limited access to adjacent high-capacity arterial roadways and freeways.
  • Events generating trips encompassing a regional, multi-county area.
Street use event
  • Occurs on a street requiring temporary closure.
  • Affects background traffic flow.
  • Capacity of spectator viewing area not known.
  • Spectators not charged or ticketed.
  • High attendance events relative to area type.
  • Race events featuring a street course of significant distance.
  • Events having a scheduled long duration and necessitating extended street closures.
Regional/multi-venue event
  • Events happen at multiple venues.
  • Events have a time specific duration, a continuous duration, or both.
  • Regional market area.
  • Events occurring at adjacent venues at the same time.
  • Events including a subset of free events or events occurring at temporary venues.
  • Major fireworks displays.
Rural event
  • Rural or rural/tourist area.
  • High attendance events attracting event patrons from a regional area.
  • Limited roadway capacity serving an event venue.
  • Lack of regular transit service.
  • High attendance festivals.
  • Capacity attendance events at amphitheater or racetrack venues.
  • High attendance events occurring at the peak of tourist season.

11.2.2 Benefits

Communities and regions have promoted and supported planned special events to boost tourism and fuel local and state economies. Public agencies can enhance the image of their area by adopting a planned, coordinated, and integrated approach toward managing travel for planned special events that minimizes traffic congestion, maintains transportation system reliability, and exceeds the customer service expectations of all road users. Benefits to transportation stakeholders and transportation system operators include:

  • Deployment of new technologies for traffic control and monitoring.
  • Incorporation of new procedures and tactics into everyday traffic management tasks.
  • Upgrade of transportation system infrastructure.
  • Improvement in stakeholder productivity.
  • Promotion of interagency sharing of personnel and equipment resources.
  • Leverage of public support for newly deployed traffic management and transit initiatives.
  • Attraction of new regular transit users and carpoolers.
  • Development of new interagency relationships crossing jurisdictional boundaries.
  • Improvement in communication and trust between stakeholders.
  • Coordination of and participation in regional coalitions to influence policy and improve activities for all planned special events.
  • Dissemination of lessons learned and solutions to technical problems that other jurisdictions may encounter in the future.
  • Promotion of stakeholder efforts in the media.

11.2.3 Key Considerations During Freeway Management Program Development

The task of managing travel for planned special events incorporates advance planning, management, and evaluation activities encompassing five distinct, chronological phases summarized below.

  • Program planning – encompasses advance planning activities completed months prior to a single, target event or activities related to a series of future planned special events.
  • Event operations planning – involves advance planning and resource coordination activities conducted for a specific planned special event.
  • Training and implementation – represents a transition phase between event operations planning and day-of-event activities. Stakeholders work to strategize traffic management plan deployment in addition to conducting necessary testing and training activities.
  • Day-of-event activities – refers to the daily implementation of the traffic management plan in addition to traffic monitoring. Rapid deployment of traffic management plan strategies and tactics, including contingency plans, requires a well-organized traffic management team and communications infrastructure.
  • Post-event activities – covers the evaluation of local and regional transportation operations based on stakeholder debriefings and an analysis of traffic data collected during the day-of-event.

Integration of these five phases creates a seamless process allowing for continuous improvement of transportation system performance from one planned special event to the next. Therefore, phased integration meets the challenge of managing travel for planned special events on a regional level. Moreover, the planning, implementation, and traffic management activities for planned special events should also be coordinated with other transportation process, including regional / statewide transportation planning, developing a regional ITS architecture, and developing a freeway management and operations program as discussed in Chapter 3.

A regional planned special events program is an ongoing process designed to address a region's needs for managing special events. The program involves those agencies that have a role in managing planned special events as well as that may have an oversight or funding role. The program will put into place a framework for handling all planned special events in a region. This would include a template for groups created to deal with specific special events, identification of funding to support such planning, and identification of infrastructure improvement needs in the region to better manage special events.

A comprehensive freeway management program should include a committee on planned special events, comprised of stakeholders that have achieved interagency coordination through past, cooperative travel management efforts. Stakeholder representatives personally know one another, and agencies have knowledge of the 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 large-scale events. 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 or future planned special events.

The institutional and political environment surrounding special events is an important consideration, and should not be underestimated. Quite frankly, special events are often very politically charged. The organizers may not have the budget required to implement the types of mitigation activities needed to keep traffic flowing, or they may not want to spend much money on traffic mitigation. Moreover, it is not unknown for organizers to use their political influence at any suggestion of a "process slowdown" or comprehensive traffic mitigation requirements. The traffic manager is caught in the middle – if there is a slowdown, he /she gets criticized; and if there is not enough traffic control/mitigation, he/she gets criticized from the public and often the event organizer who didn't want to hear about traffic impacts during event planning. Even a good permitting process often doesn't resolve this issue. It is therefore critical that the practitioner be aware of this situation, and plan for it in the freeway management and operations program whenever possible. In other words, work with event organizers on traffic mitigation; but also have some contingency resources available in able to do what is needed. Evaluation and Assessment

The FHWA Traffic Incident Management (TIM) Self-Assessment tool (Reference 3, and also discussed in Chapter 10 herein) contains a TIM administrative team assessment question on planned special events – specifically question This question asks: "does the assessed TIM program conduct planning for 'special events' including sporting events / concerts / conventions, etc.?" The tool includes several assessment questions potentially applicable to measuring a program's progress regarding the advance planning and management of travel for planned special events. Table 11-2 lists pertinent assessment questions categorized by the five defined phases of managing planned special events.

Table 11-2: Traffic Incident Management Program Assessment Questions Relative to Managing Planned Special Events (Reference 3)
Phase Assessment Question
Program Planning Does your program:
  • Have formal interagency agreements on operational and administrative procedures and policies?
  • Have multi-agency, multi-year strategic plans detailing specific programmatic activities to be accomplished with appropriate budget and personnel needs identified?
  • Have field-level input into the strategic plans ensuring that the plans will be workable by those responsible for their implementation?
  • Have formalized multi-agency teams to meet and discuss administrative policy issues?
  • Hold regular meetings of the administrative team?
  • Have multi-agency agreements on what measures will be tracked and used to measure program performance?
  • Have established criteria for what is a "major event" – event levels or codes?
Event Operations Planning Does your program:
  • Have agreed upon methods to collect and analyze/track performance measures?
  • Have established targets for performance?
  • Have a pre-identified (approved) contact list of resources?
  • Have response equipment pre-staged for timely response?
  • Utilize traffic control procedures in compliance with the MUTCD?
  • Have mutually understood equipment staging procedures?
  • Have quick clearance policies?
  • Have a pre-qualified list of available and contracted towing and recovery operators?
  • Use motorist assistance patrols?
  • Have specific policies and procedures for traffic management during the event?
Training and Implementation Does your program:
  • Conduct training through simulation or "in-field" exercises?
  • Train all responders in traffic control procedures?
Day-of-Event Activities Does your program:
  • Utilize traffic control procedures for the end of the traffic queue?
  • Utilize the Incident Command System?
  • Have a two-way interagency voice communications system allowing for direct communications between responders?
  • Use Traffic Management Center(s)?
  • Have the ability to merge/integrate and interpret information from multiple sources?
  • Have a real-time motorist information system providing event-specific information?
Post-Event Activities Does your program:
  • Conduct post-incident debriefings?
  • Conduct periodic review of whether or not progress is being made to achieve performance targets?

11.2.4 Relationship to National ITS Architecture

Management of planned special events is not specifically identified in the National ITS Architecture, other than the traffic incident management market package, which treats both unexpected incidents and planned events. In many respects, the activities associated with managing planned special events overlay much, if not all, of the "links and sausage" diagram (previous Figure 3-4). Moreover, many of the market packages support special events, including the various traveler information packages, network surveillance, freeway control, surface street control, regional traffic control, reversible lane management, regional parking management, transit operations, just to name a few.

11.2.5 Technologies and Strategies

The mitigation of congestion and potential safety impacts identified through a planned special event feasibility study requires development of a traffic management plan and complementing travel demand management strategies. Table 11-3 lists numerous tools for mitigating planned special event impacts on local roadway and regional transportation system operations. In meeting the overall travel management goal of achieving efficiency, these tools target using the excess capacity of the roadway system, parking facilities, and transit. Through travel demand management, event planning team stakeholders develop attractive incentives and use innovative communication mechanisms to influence event patron decision-making and, ultimately, traffic demand.

Table 11-3a: Tools for Mitigating Planned Special Event Impacts on Transportation System Operations: Traffic Control and Capacity Improvements
Category Example Tools
Freeway traffic control
  • Ramp closures
  • Elimination of weaving areas
  • Alternate routes
  • Ramp metering
Street traffic control
  • Lane control
  • Alternative lane operations
  • On-street parking restrictions
  • Trailblazer signing
  • Parking management systems
Intersection traffic control
  • Access restriction
  • Lane balance
  • Advance signing
  • Traffic signal timing and coordination
Traffic incident management
  • Service patrols
  • Tow truck staging
  • Quick clearance of traffic incidents
  • Advance warning signs
  • Portable lighting

Table 11-3b: Tools for Mitigating Planned Special Event Impacts on Transportation System Operations: Freeway Management
Category Example Tools
Traffic surveillance
  • Closed circuit television systems
  • Field observation
  • Aerial observation
  • Media reports
  • Portable traffic management systems
En-route traveler information
  • Changeable message signs
  • Highway advisory radio
  • Media

Table 11-3c: Tools for Mitigating Planned Special Event Impacts on Transportation System Operations: Travel Demand Management
Category Example Tools
Transit incentives
  • Public transit service expansion
  • Express buses from park and ride lots
  • Charter bus service
High occupancy vehicle incentives
  • Preferred parking
  • Reduced parking cost
Event patron incentives
  • Pre-event and post-event activities
Bicyclist accommodation
  • Bicycle routes and available parking/lock-up
Local travel demand management
  • Background traffic diversion
  • Truck diversion
Pre-trip traveler information
  • Internet
  • Telephone information systems
  • Public information campaign
  • Event and venue transportation guide
  • Kiosks
  • Television
  • Roadside traveler information devices

11.2.6 Emerging Trends

The "Freeway Management State-of-the-Practice White Paper" (Reference 4) addresses the "state-of-the-art" (Note: Defined in the reference as "innovative and effective practices and the application of leading edge technologies that are ready for deployment in terms of operating accurately and efficiently, but are not fully accepted and deployed by practitioners") in special events management as follows: "In addition to using the state of the art features available from other related system functions, focuses on utilizing mobile devices to help manage traffic during special events. The use of portable dynamic message signs for special events is relatively common practice. However, expanding that concept to other devices is more state-or-the-art than state-of-the-practice. Portable devices that have been used for special events management include portable CCTV cameras and detection devices to monitor conditions surrounding special event venues."

11.3 Implementation and Operational Considerations

Figure 11-2 summarizes the phases of managing travel for planned special events and the common products generated by coordinated stakeholder groups under each phase.

flowchart showing the five phases of managing planned special events and their associated products

Figure 11-2: Integration of Planned Special Event Management Phases D

11.3.1 Program Planning

Program planning involves the participation and coordination of stakeholders having an oversight role in addition to agencies directly responsible for event operations planning. Products of program planning include establishing new institutional frameworks, policies, and regulations to plan, monitor, and evaluate future planned special events. A stakeholder task force on special events may identify future infrastructure needs, in addition to funding mechanisms, to better manage travel for recurring events. Program planning for all planned special events in a region requires an institutional framework for generating and managing programs and initiatives that, in turn, improve planning and day-of-event operations for future events. A key consideration involves integrating a planned special event program with other ongoing freeway and transportation management programs.

Program planning for local planned special events typically incorporates a government agency permitting and regulation framework. Through a carefully constructed permitting process, stakeholders can achieve a better sense of what resources are needed to handle the event. Figure 11-3 presents a flowchart summarizing key event organizer and public agency actions throughout a special event permit process, from submitting a permit application to conducting the proposed event.

flowchart summarizing key event organizer and public agency actions throughout a special event permit process

Figure 11-3: Planned Special Event Permit Process D

11.3.2 Event Operations Planning

The event operations planning phase encompasses three stages of advance planning for a specific planned special event:

  • Preparation of a feasibility study to predict the anticipated impacts of the event. The structure and approach of a planned special event feasibility study resembles a Traffic Impact Study required for planned developments, as illustrated in Figure 11-4. The figure shows the sequential steps in preparing a feasibility study for a planned special event. The feasibility study gauges the impact that a proposed event has on traffic and parking operations at and in the vicinity of the venue initially without roadway capacity improvements or initiatives to reduce travel demand. The feasibility study results define the scope of traffic management plan, including a freeway traffic control plan, required to successfully manage travel for a planned special event.
drawing that shows the six sequential steps of a planned special event feasibility study and their results

Figure 11-4: Feasibility Study Analysis Steps D

  • Development of a traffic management plan to safely and efficiently service predicted traffic demand. A traffic management plan includes operations strategies for managing event-generated and background traffic within the local and regional area (e.g., freeway corridors serving the event venue) impacted. The plan also specifies techniques to facilitate site access, parking, and pedestrian access. Table 11-4 indicates the components of a traffic management plan for planned special events. Not all components represent a distinct formal plan but warrant consideration, either individually or in concert with another component.
Table 11-4: Traffic Management Plan Components
  • Site access and parking plan
  • Pedestrian access plan
  • Traffic flow plan
  • Traffic control plan
  • En-route traveler information plan
  • Traffic surveillance plan
  • Traffic incident management and safety plan
  • Identification of travel demand management strategies to optimize transportation system operating efficiency. Travel demand management (TDM) represents a key product of the overall advance planning process when forecasted traffic demand levels approach or exceed available roadway system capacity. TDM strategies do not represent infrastructure improvements to increase capacity, but rather are methods that cause traffic demand reduction by exposing other travel choices, particularly for event patrons, using alternate forms of transportation. The goal is to optimize transport of event patrons and non-attendee transportation system users through incentives aimed at consolidating person trips and alternating user travel patterns at no additional penalty to the user. Table 11-5 lists TDM initiatives for planned special events.
Table 11-5: Travel Demand Management Initiatives
  • Mass transit incentives, including expanded public transit service and charter bus service.
  • High occupancy vehicle incentives.
  • Bicyclist accommodation.
  • Event patron incentives.

11.3.3 Training and Implementation

Training and implementation activities include implementation plan development, stakeholder review and testing, and personnel resource management. The objectives of these activities are to improve the efficiency of traffic management plan deployment, and to increase traffic management team preparedness. In turn, this creates a more responsive traffic management team and fluid team operation, thus translating to better transportation system performance on the day-of-event.

  • An implementation plan communicates traffic management plan specifics using a quick reference format. Individual stakeholders may develop a plan for the freeway/arterial corridor(s) or street networks under their jurisdiction. The plan is intended for use by traffic management team personnel at the command post and in the field. It describes location-specific traffic control and parking operations, thus integrating the specifications of various traffic management plan components. On a management-level, an implementation plan specifies an action plan for activating, changing, and deactivating traffic management plan provisions.
  • Stakeholder review and testing allows the traffic management team to identify potential limitations of the traffic management plan prior to the day-of-event. It promotes traffic management team coordination and increases stakeholder familiarity of the duties, responsibilities, and capabilities of other stakeholders. Activities range from table-top exercises that examine how different agencies react to various scenarios to "hands-on" applications that can involve performing a full-scale simulation or deploying a traffic management plan for smaller planned special events as a test.
  • Personnel resource management typically includes the design of critical transportation control and management strategies around staff and contractors available on the day-of-event. However, the recruitment of temporary staff and volunteers expands traffic management team capabilities and elevates its operations efficiency. Practitioners can capitalize on the benefits of having additional personnel resources by recognizing volunteer limitations and applying proven training methods.

11.3.4 Day-of-Event Activities

Day-of-event activities involve the actual implementation and operation of the traffic management plan during the day-of-event. Not only do the requirements of the traffic management team have to be considered, but it is also very essential to monitor what can be a very fluid situation to see how the plan is working and then determine what needs to be adjusted based on real-time traffic conditions.

The traffic management team must adopt a formal management process to ensure successful traffic management plan deployment and minimal impact to transportation system users. The Incident Command System (ICS) can be used to handle traffic management during planned special events. Unified Command represents an ICS management process that functions to coordinate inter-jurisdictional and multi-disciplinary stakeholders comprising the traffic management team without sacrificing agency authority, responsibility, or accountability. An advantage of using the ICS during a planned special event is that it clarifies how decisions are made if the traffic management plan requires adjustment. ICS is discussed in more detail in Chapter 12.

Since multiple stakeholders are involved, it is critical that they be able to communicate with one another on the day-of-event. Operating on a common channel with clear language greatly improves interagency communication. To minimize confusion and extraneous information being shared among agencies, the question of who will use which frequencies should be decided during the planning process. Stakeholders should understand how they can reach other traffic management team members during the event, which channels they will be found on, and what information should be shared.

Traffic monitoring represents an important day-of-event activity, serving to provide traffic and incident management support in addition to performance evaluation data. Timely deployment of contingency plans developed during the event operations planning phase depends on the accurate collection and communication of real-time traffic data between traffic management team members.

11.3.5 Post-Event Activities

Post-event activities range from informal debriefings between agencies comprising the traffic management team to development of a detailed evaluation report. Evaluation results represent valuable input data for use in planning for future planned special events.

  • At the conclusion of the planned special event, a debriefing session should be held. The stakeholder debriefing is an opportunity to bring together those involved and impacted by the planned special event. In it, these individuals, and the groups they represent, can compare what the plan called for and what actually took place. They can also examine areas the plan may not have addressed but turned out to be issues in hindsight. The purpose of the post-event debriefing is not to just identify what could have been done better but to note what was successful. As has been the case from the start of the event operations planning process through the event itself, multiple viewpoints are helpful as stakeholders identify key successes and lessons learned.
  • A report that reviews the planned special event is necessary to document what was learned. By clearly outlining the material in the report, it becomes easier to identify the key successes and lessons learned. It also makes it easier to go back to the report and look at particular aspects of the traffic management plan implemented when planning the next planned special event. Post-event report components include an operational cost analysis, qualitative evaluation results, and quantitative evaluation results. The qualitative evaluation is based on a number of factors, including the survey of the public and event patrons. Also important is the qualitative evaluation provided by those stakeholders who managed the event. The quantitative evaluation provides a numerical picture of the event. The quantitative evaluation is very useful when conducting a cost/benefit analysis of activities for the planned special event. Knowing where the most benefit was realized for the costs incurred can help in the planning process to see if resources should be reallocated for the next event.

11.4 Examples

Reference 1 profiles numerous successful practices, highlighting proven policies, regulations, strategies, and tactics used in the advance planning, management, and monitoring of travel for planned special events. In turn, operators will gain an understanding of the keys to successful planned special event transportation management, as summarized below:

  • Achieve early, constant input and participation of involved agencies.
  • Predict event-generated travel impacts on both a local and corridor/regional level.
  • Develop an integrated transportation management plan that can accommodate a range of traffic demands and other contingencies.
  • Ensure successful traffic management plan implementation.
  • Deploy a well-organized traffic management team equipped with the ability to communicate seamlessly between agencies.
  • Conduct continuous traffic monitoring on the day-of-event and maintain protocol for modifying the traffic management plan to accommodate real-time traffic.
  • Transfer event management successes into daily applications, and translate lessons learned into future event planning and operations needs.

11.5 References

1. Federal Highway Administration, Managing Travel for Planned Special Events, September 2003.

2. Carson, J.L. and R.G. Bylsma, Transportation Planning and Management for Special Events, NCHRP Synthesis 309, Transportation Research Board, National Research Council, Washington D.C., 2003, 71 pp.

3."Traffic Incident Management Self Assessment Guide," Federal Highway Administration, Washington, D.C., 2002 [Online]. Available: [2003, July 8].

4. Federal Highway Administration, "Freeway Management and Operations: State-of-the-Practice White Paper, January, 2003.