Managing Travel for Planned Special Events: First National Conference Proceedings
BREAKOUT SESSIONS — TRAFFIC MANAGEMENT TEAM DAY-OF-EVENT ACTIVITIES
Walt Dunn, Dunn Engineering Associates, P.C., Presiding
The Dutchess County Fair Traffic Plan
I-95 Corridor Coalition
Captain Henry DeVries discussed transportation management for the Dutchess County Fair in New York. He described the scope of the fair, the project goals, operation of the project, and future activities.
The Dutchess County Fair is the largest scheduled event in the region. It is the second largest agricultural fair in the state of New York, with some 500,000 attendees over six days. The event overwhelms the roadway infrastructure in the area. Delays of up to four hours occur on the two-lane roadway serving the fairgrounds. The fair represents a challenge for transportation agencies, but also provides the opportunity for significant media coverage.
The project goals were to: 1) reduce ingress and egress congestion; 2) demonstrate the benefits of ITS to agency staff, the media, and the public; 3) provide training in the use of ITS strategies, tools, and techniques to operations staff; and 4) develop an ITS template for future events.
The project was coordinated with the new regional TMC. In 1999 there were no cellular telephone towers in the area. The state police provided a loaned vehicle and Nextel provided a link to the TMC. The emergency communications vehicle included a number of elements. In addition to the Nextel link to the TMC, VHF radio communications to state police patrols were used. Fair details were provided via 800 MHz, and ITS components were provided via a laptop modem.
VMS's were a major component of the traveler information system. There were 10 solar powered signs located at key points on the roads around the fair. The signs were cellular programmable and were pre-installed with anticipatory message sets. There was also a diversion plan for non-fair related traffic.
HAR was also an important part of the traveler information system. The HAR was solar powered and cellular programmable. It contained a pre-recorded play list. HAR was used in concert with VMS for diversion routing and incident notification.
Incident management focused primarily on two highway emergency local patrol (HELP) trucks on site during peak hours. In addition to assisting motorists and field personnel, the HELP operators provided information on roadway conditions. The HELP personnel also helped with public relations activities during non-peak times.
There were some challenges with communications as there was no cellular coverage in the target area the first year. Nextel provided "Cellular on Wheels" (COW) at the site to help with communications. This COW provided full digital two-way communications to mobile and handheld radios. It allowed for changes to be made in VMS and HAR messages. It was also used to request HELP response. Additional lighting was provided by using portable high-intensity lights.
A third temporary lane was added on the approach road using traffic cones. The two traffic signals that caused traffic to back up were reprogrammed to use a portable CCTV and remote preemption. Electronic counters were located at internal exit points. These counters were easy to use and appear to be reasonably accurate. They also provided a direct download to laptop computers.
Coverage of the project in the media was favorable. There were positive articles in the local press and the New York Times, with the benefits of ITS explained to public. Also, media relationships were developed and utilized over the course of the project.
The project represented the most comprehensive rural ITS deployment for a planned special event in New York State. The benefits of ITS were recognized by the public. The training provided enhanced future ITS incident management capabilities. There were also measurable improvements to public safety.
After Action Review of the North American International Auto Show
Mia Silver and Greg Krueger
Michigan Department of Transportation
Mia Silver and Greg Krueger discussed the special transportation elements associated with the 2004 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. They described the characteristics of the Auto Show, summarized the day-of-event operations, highlighted some of the lessons learned, and outlined future activities.
The North American International Auto Show is a highly visible winter event in Detroit. It spans multiple days and uses multiple venues. There are unique event days, and activities occur on both weekdays and weekends.
The Auto Show covers 16 days in mid-January. The show starts with three press days, followed by two industry days. The first Friday in 2004 included multiple venues. The main focus of day-of-event operations is on messaging, monitoring, and communications.
The major lessons learned in 2004 included the importance of pre-planning, coordination with parking, intra-agency coordination, and including the Freeway Courtesy Patrol in the operations plan. Other lessons learned related to traffic control devices, monitoring the ITS infrastructure status, facilitating stakeholder cooperation, and completing after action reports.
Internal coordination at the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) included the Metro Region, the Michigan ITS (MITS) Center, and the Transportation Service Center. The Metro Region was responsible for regional coordination, communications, and external stakeholder relations. The MITS Center was responsible for freeway operations, incident management, traffic information, the Freeway Courtesy Patrol, event pre-planning, and after action reviews. The Transportation Service Center was responsible for maintenance operations, traffic and safety services, construction deliveries, and public interface.
External coordination occurred with other public and private organizations. Public organizations included the Michigan State Police, the Detroit Police Department, county road agencies, Detroit Public Works Department, the City of Detroit, and other municipalities. Private organizations included Ford Field, Comerica Park, Palace, and other venues and groups.
Planning is underway for the 2005 Major League Baseball All-Star Game and Super Bowl XXX, both of which will be held in Detroit. The planning and operation activities used for the Auto Show provide the base for managing traffic for these major events.
TECHNICAL EXCHANGE SESSION
Traffic Control for Planned Special Events in Lenexa, Kansas
City of Lenexa, Kansas
Deb Madsen participated in the Technical Exchange Session. Her display highlighted traffic control for planned special events in Lenexa, KS. The major topics covered include communications, pre-event planning, pre-event traffic management, resources, day-of-event activities, and lessons learned.
Communication is key to planning traffic management for special events. Meetings should be held with all departments involved with special events to discuss the transportation needs and the scope of an event. Identifying an individual with overall responsibility for traffic management at special events is also necessary. It is important to involve police, traffic engineering, fire, and EMS personnel. All impacted agencies and groups need to work together. Involving neighboring cities is also important if traffic from a special event will impact roadways in their area. Plan for food, water, restroom facilities, and breaks for personnel.
Traffic management elements to consider before an event include determining roadways that will need to be closed and identifying detour routes around the special event. Identifying roadways where traffic flow will need to be reduced or restricted is also important. Reviewing traffic control devices, pedestrian traffic, and other activities in the area is also important. Businesses, churches, and emergency buildings in the event area that may be impacted by traffic should be identified.
Other elements of pre-event planning should include developing maps of the area and of detour routes. Identifying permanent traffic control devises that will help or hinder the ability to manage traffic is also important. Evaluating where officers are needed should also be conducted. The requirements of the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) should be reviewed, and planners should consider the need for outside assistance.
Identifying needed financial and staff resources is important. Resources to consider include the number and type of traffic control devices, such as cones, barricades, and signage. Planners should also consider using temporary signals and other devises. Monitoring traffic during the times the event will be held and collecting traffic counts to determine the normal traffic flow is important. Planners should identify the personnel needed from different agencies.
On the day of an event, it is important to have one person responsible for traffic control. Adequate time should be allowed to set up for the event and to review plans with personnel. Checking all communication technologies is important. The traffic management plans should be fluid and flexible to respond to changing conditions and unexpected activities. Maintaining communications with all groups involved throughout the event is important.
Experience indicates that communication is key to successful operations. Plan for more than you think will be needed. Involving all departments and groups in the planning process is also critical. Communicating with businesses, residences, churches, and other groups is critical. Finally, providing detours around the event or other options is important for non-event traffic.
Major Planned Special Events in New York City
Richard S. Pepe
Richard Pepe participated in the Technical Exchange Session. His display presented information on planning for special events in New York City and day-of-event traffic management activities. Topics highlighted included pre-planning activities, coordination during an event, and applying 3-Dimensional (3-D) laser scanning technology to special event planning.
Numerous planned special events are held in New York City each year. Examples of some of the largest and oldest special events include the New Year's Eve celebration in Times Square, the New York City Marathon, and the St. Patrick's Day Parade. These and other special events have significant impacts on the transportation system.
NYPD's Special Events Section plays a key role in planning and carrying out the safety, security, and transportation elements associated with special events in the city. Pre-planning, which involves all applicable agencies, begins well in advance of major events.
Coordination between agencies and between departments within an agency is critical to successfully managing traffic for special events. In addition to beginning planning activities early and ongoing coordination, other keys to success include communication and sharing information during an event, maintaining flexibility to respond to changing conditions, and post-event critiques. Using maps to outline the main elements of the traffic plan is also helpful.
3-D laser scanning technology can enhance planning for special events A 3-D file can be made of an entire event. A 3-D file provides the opportunity to consider the event venue from a number of different perspectives. It enhances planning for traffic management, as well as considering safety and security issues. Using 3-D laser scanning for special events provides an additional example of how technology enhances planning and operating traffic management strategies.
CASE STUDY SESSION
Ann Lorscheider, North Carolina Department of Transportation, Presiding
Analysis of Reversible Traffic Operations during Planned Events
Louisiana State University
Brian Wolshon discussed the use of reversible lanes and roadways to help manage traffic operations with planned special events. He described recent research studies analyzing reversible traffic operations during special events and the use of reversible operations to manage traffic at Louisiana State University (LSU) football games.
The Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) defines reversible roadways and lanes as "one or more lanes designated for movement one-way during part of the day and in the opposite direction during another part of the day." The principle is to make use of "unused capacity" in one direction to carry traffic in the other direction. The National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) Synthesis 34-06 was conducted to document the current state of the practice and the history of reversible lane use. Reversible lanes have been in use for more than 70 years. Planning, designing, controlling, operating, and enforcement practices vary widely, however.
Applications of reversible roadways and lanes have been used in numerous cities throughout the world. This approach is particularly useful where right-of-way is constrained, such as with tunnels and bridges. Examples of common applications include peak commute periods, temporary construction work zones, evacuations and other emergency traffic management, high-occupancy vehicle (HOV), transit, and managed lanes, and planned events.
The spatial characteristics of reversible roadways and lanes vary widely. Segment lengths range from less than one mile to more than 100 miles. Common applications include tunnels, bridges, and roadways with limited right-of-way. Transition entry and departure zones are critical in considerations with the use of reversible lanes. These are areas of condensed weaving and merging. They often regulate the capacity of the entire segment. Thus, termini must be adequate to serve the anticipated demand.
Two temporal components – frequency and duration – must be considered with the use of reversible lanes. Frequency focuses on when the lanes will be used. Options may include daily peak periods, special events, evacuations, and construction projects. Duration addresses how long the lanes will be in use. Planners must consider the time to reconfigure, clear the segment, operate, clear the segment, and reconfigure.
It is important to develop rules or warrants for using reversible lanes. Currently, no formalized guidelines exist, although recommended practices provide guidance. These guidelines include predictable and periodic congestion, directionally unbalanced flows of at least 65 percent major – 35 percent minor, and through traffic with a minimum of turns and stops. Other guidelines include termini that insure full utilization of the lanes, maintaining a minimum of two lanes in both directions, and prohibiting left-turns and parking.
The initial interest in using reversible lanes for special events evolved from contraflow evacuation research. The initial goal was to characterize the flow in the reverse direction based on capacity, speeds, and comparison to a normal lane. The objectives of the NCHRP project were to document current practice, generate possible future guidelines, and identify needs for further research.
An application was examined at LSU to help manage traffic for home football games. A typical football Saturday brings some 150,000 people and 50,000 vehicles to the LSU campus. Traffic is served by only one roadway that is more than two lanes. Arriving traffic is spread over two days. The goal is to move outbound traffic to the freeway and other arterial routes to the east and north.
The reversible segment is approximately 1 1/2 miles in length. It is located in a residential and retail area with many driveways. The road has three lanes for the first .5 mile and then two lanes. The speed limit is 35 mph. The reversible lane is typically initiated by the police. Control is provided by police with flares and cones. The duration is approximately one and a half hours. It is typically operated at night. The lane terminates with a split configuration. Flow at the terminus is periodically interrupted for cross-street traffic.
The research examined a number of topics. Issues considered included the flow in a reversed lane compared to the flow in an adjacent normal lane and the flow in the reversed lane compared to the flow in the same lane when not reversed. The traffic conditions during the event configuration were also compared to traffic conditions during the routine peak period flows. The research also examined variations in conditions among events and by location.
A variety of data was collected as part of the study. Speed, volume, and headway data was collected on a one-minute basis. Three football games were included in the study and one additional game was used as a pilot study to test the recorder settings, data collection set-up, and other activities. Similar data was also collected at the same locations over a three-day period under non-event conditions.
Comparisons of reverse and normal lane operations were made using side-by-side data. No significant differences between any of the flow characteristics in the adjacent lanes were identified. Observational evidence, which was not tested, appears to suggest that drivers generally tend to stay in the normal lane, and then move into the reversed lane as volumes build and speeds lower.
A comparison of event and non-event traffic indicated that maximum flow rates during events were generally 15 to 20 percent higher than those during routine peak hours. Headway data suggested that drivers were more aggressive during event conditions, resulting in higher flow rates with lower speeds. More specific comparisons between the reversed lane under the two conditions were difficult because of the proximity to the signalized intersection.
A comparison of event-to-event traffic flows and conditions at different locations was also conducted. No significant differences in traffic flow were noted between events. Flows in the reversed lanes were significantly improved during events in which the starting queue was led out by a police escort.
Primary conclusions from the study indicate that despite widely held perceptions, there is little evidence to suggest that flow conditions are degraded by reversing lane flows. Observational evidence also suggests that drivers tend to use the reversed lane similar to a freeway passing lane until reversed flow is well established. Comparison to other locations and uses suggest that these findings are likely generalized.