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Guidance on Rolling Roadblock Operations

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DOT Logo Memorandum
U.S. Department
of Transportation
Federal Highway

Subject: INFORMATION: Guidance on Rolling Roadblock Operations Date: Nov 2, 2018
From: Martin C. Knopp
Associate Administrator for Operations
empty cell In Reply Refer To:
To: Associate Administrators
Directors of Field Services
Federal Lands Highway Division Engineers
Chief Technical Services Officer
Division Administrators
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The Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) Office of Operations has issued the attached Guidance, dated October 17, 2018, on the Use of Rolling Roadblock Operations by State and local transportation agencies receiving Federal-aid highway funding. While agencies around the country reference the rolling roadblock technique by a variety of names (including traffic breaks, temporary road closures, pacing operations, and traffic pacing), the term "rolling roadblock" is used here to encompass all similar traffic control techniques used during, but not limited to, highway construction, maintenance, or utility work.

This Guidance is issued in response to National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommendations following an investigation into the cause and contributing factors of an October 2016 crash between a motorcoach and combination vehicle near Palm Springs, CA resulting in the death of 13 highway users. The NTSB investigation found that, among other factors, the local policy on rolling roadblocks was a contributing factor to the crash, and subsequently recommended that FHWA:

  • Advise State departments of transportation (State DOT) officials about the circumstances of the crash,
  • Distribute exemplar State guidance on the safe implementation of rolling roadblocks,
  • Urge each State to adopt a policy for conducting rolling roadblocks, and
  • Encourage State DOTs to utilize their next biennial Work Zone Process Review to evaluate their policies on rolling roadblock operations and, if necessary, adopt a policy for their safe implementation.

Pursuant to NTSB recommendations, the attached Guidance provides information on the background, causes, and contributing factors to the 2016 crash; information on rolling roadblock operations; the state of the practice in State DOT rolling roadblock policies; best practices and guidance on developing rolling roadblock policies; and exemplar State policies on the use of rolling roadblocks. This Guidance also provides recommendations and guidance for utilizing Work Zone Process Reviews for evaluating the existence and/or effectiveness of State policies on the use of rolling roadblocks. Information on additional resources are also provided, including FHWA-sponsored guidance documents and training.

Please discuss the recommendations of the Guidance with your State and local partners including law enforcement agencies.

If you have any questions regarding the recommendations, please contact Jawad Paracha at 202-366-4628 or


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