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Role of Transportation Management Centers in Emergency Operations Guidebook

4.0 Response and Recovery

This section provides guidance on Transportation Management Centers (TMC) roles in the response and recovery phases of emergency events. The planning activities described in Section 3.0 determine the level of success achieved in response and recovery. TMC participation in the NRF and NIMS frameworks are key to effective working relationships during recovery. This section includes a summary of response and recovery relationships and then descriptions of the TMC role in response activities in three different situations, including traffic incidents (minor and large-scale), large-scale emergencies, and planned special events.

4.1 General TMC Roles in Response and Recovery

During an emergency or event, the TMC serves as a Transportation Department Operations Center (TOC). It can be colocated with a state or county EOC, which allows for close coordination between the DOT and their counterparts in emergency response. It also allows the quick deployment of TMC resources for emergency response activities. The quote from NCHRP Synthesis 318 shown below summarizes the role TMCs can play during the response and recovery phase of an emergency or event.

Section 2.0 discussed the key resources and services provided by TMCs in emergency operations. Additional detail on best practices in using TMC resources in emergency response can be found in the FHWA document Best Practices in Emergency Transportation Operations Preparedness and Response. One of the best practices is deployment of Mobile Emergency Response Operations/Command Centers, which can be quickly deployed to emergency sites. These trailers support various radio frequencies, including those for state DOT, state patrol, and most local police and fire departments. The report divides the best practices into interagency communication and cooperation; emergency operations; equipment; ITS; mutual aid; threat notification, awareness, and information sharing; and policy.

“Considered a key component in facilitating efficient incident detection, verification, and response, the use of a traffic management center (TMC) as a communications hub during incident removal operations provides numerous benefits. TMC personnel can assist in sizing up and classifying an incident, dispatch state DOT incident response or maintenance crews, contact private towing and recovery companies, relay agency communications across jurisdictions and disseminate accurate incident characteristics and predicted duration to travelers and the media.”

NCHRP Synthesis 318: Safe and Quick
Clearance of Traffic Incidents, 2003, p. 52.

Following are some of the key roles in the response phase.

  • Implementation of Operating Procedures – Most TMCs maintain an operating procedures manual identifying TMC personnel to staff an emergency, and the key notifications to be made under different circumstances. These procedures often include flow charts incorporating both required operator actions and notifications. TMCs should review these as part of the emergency operations planning process and should have procedures in place to make sure changes in agency partner personnel are up-to-date.
  • Implementation of Operating Procedures – Most TMCs maintain an operating procedures manual identifying TMC personnel to staff an emergency, and the key notifications to be made under different circumstances. These procedures often include flow charts incorporating both required operator actions and notifications. TMCs should review these as part of the emergency operations planning process and should have procedures in place to make sure changes in agency partner personnel are up-to-date.
  • Infrastructure Surveillance – Many regions with traffic cameras are now using them for surveillance of critical infrastructure during periods of heightened alert, and TMCs are developing policies and training personnel for this purpose. When emergencies threaten the viability of critical infrastructure, TMCs should coordinate with emergency operations to focus on facilities under threat or those that are key to maintaining emergency access or evacuation routes. TMCs should also coordinate with their engineering and maintenance staffs to obtain information on infrastructure conditions. In some situations, there may be a need for engineers and inspectors to assess infrastructure condition. TMC personnel can then communicate these conditions to emergency operations personnel.
  • CCTV to Support Security – TMC camera operators are trained to look for suspicious activity. In some regions, public safety agencies have access to traffic cameras, either by their presence in TMCs or by external camera feeds and control mechanisms. Guidelines for use and/or control of CCTV by outside parties, as discussed in Section 3.0, should be in place to expedite exchange of video information.
  • Media Relations – The TMC can provide a conduit for traffic and transportation information to emergency public information personnel and/or the media. During incidents, TMCs should be aware and adhere to the protocols as laid out under NIMS and ICS. These protocols recognize the role of the Public Information Officer (PIO) who is tasked with the following functions:
    • Gather data and attend staff briefings;
    • Monitor news coverage and analyze public information needs;
    • Handle media interviews and arrange for safe escort of reporters to restricted areas;
    • Write and distribute media advisories, news releases and situation reports;
    • Organize news conferences;
    • Prepare radio actualities/audio messages for telephone hotlines;
    • Write information to be posted to the Web;
    • Provide community or legislative outreach as assigned; and
    • Prepare internal or staff information materials as assigned (Wisconsin DOT Emergency Operations Plan, Rev. 1, June 2010, 40.).

In some cases, PIOs are supplied by the transportation agency, or transportation agencies may provide a deputy PIO to communicate information. TMCs should make sure staff with the right PIO skills are available for emergency duty. NIMS/ICS training and communications skills/experience are important for this position.

Picture of trees along a roadway that have been downed in an ice storm.
Photo courtesy of the Washington State DOT.

The Washington State Department of Transportation’s TMC continually monitors inclement weather and road conditions for reporting to the traveling public. An ice storm created havoc on the roads with icy roads, fallen trees, and numerous vehicle incidents. The TMC kept the traveling public informed via 511, Twitter, web site, and message boards. They also worked with law enforcement to manage traffic.

4.2 Response and Recovery Checklist

The TMC can use the following checklist to evaluate their current status related to participation in response and recovery activities (check all that apply):

❑ The TMC maintains an Operating Procedures Manual which TMC personnel use to staff an emergency, and which includes the key notifications to be made under different circumstances.

❑ The TMC conducts infrastructure surveillance and coordinates with emergency operations to focus on facilities under threat or those that are key to maintaining emergency access or evacuation routes, and with DOT engineering and maintenance staff to determine infrastructure conditions.

❑ The TMC has guidelines that support the use of CCTV during an emergency.

❑ The TMC coordinates with the DOT PIO during emergencies or large events.

4.3 Traffic Incidents

Most TMCs currently have well-established procedures defining coordination activities with emergency operations during small-scale incidents. This section will identify methods, through best practice examples, to improve response through coordination. Most TMCs also have procedures for emergency operations during large-scale incidents. Established procedures for response to small-scale emergencies can be a building block to improve coordination for larger events. Table 4.1 summarizes response activities identified in the TIM Resource Guide (Traffic Incident Management Resource Guide, FHWA, June 2009, 708.), and includes how they relate to both small-scale and large-scale traffic incidents.

Table 4.1 Operational Responsibilities Assumed by TMCs for Traffic Incidents
Resources and Services General Practice Best Practices
Assist in incident detection and verification
  • Most incidents are now reported through emergency cell phone calls to Public Safety Answering Points (PSAP).
  • In areas covered by TMC detection and surveillance, TMC operators may identify incidents simultaneously.
  • In some cases, incident data are passed from PSAP’s to TMCs through an intermediate database or by phone.
  • TMCs share their space with emergency operations personnel.
  • TMC’s have direct links to law enforcement Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) systems, and are able to obtain dispatch reports in near real time.

Initiate Traffic Management Strategies on Impacted Facilities

Establish and Operate Alternate Routes

  • TMCs use available ITS system components such as message signs and traveler information to keep traffic out of the impacted area (L).
  • TMCs use available ITS system components such as message signs and traveler information services to reinforce Quick Clearance, Move Over, and/or Slow Down laws (S).
  • TMCs use a variety of operational systems, including ramp meters and coordination with arterial signal operations personnel to implement preplanned strategies for managing traffic in and around the incident (L).
  • TMCs have access to the location of all DOT resources, including maintenance vehicles, and coordinate with the incident scene commander and other DOT departments to deploy these resources as needed.
  • TMCs have preplanned detours routes incorporated into their freeway management system, which provides automated guidance on traveler information messages, signal/ramp meter timing, and preferred detour routes. Operators use this information to keep the incident scene commander informed on best option (L).

Protect the Incident Scene and Provide Traffic Control

Provide Special Equipment Clearing for Incident Scenes

Determine Incident Clearance and Roadway Repair Needs

Coordinate Clearance and Repair Resources

Repair Transportation Infrastructure

  • TMCs help protect the incident scene by using Dynamic Message Signs and other traveler information services to warn motorists of the incident location.
  • TMCs field requests from the incident scene commander to coordinate with DOT maintenance departments to dispatch required traffic control equipment to the scene (L).
  • TMCs field requests from the incident scene commander to coordinate with DOT maintenance departments and relevant environmental agencies regarding minor clean up of fuel and antifreeze spills (S).
  • TMCs contact engineering personnel to assess road and bridge condition after major incident and help determine whether restrictions/detours need to be implemented (L).
  • TMCs can provide information on the location of the incident quickly to the public through multiple communications channels.
  • TMCs have the ability to automatically locate and dispatch support vehicles where needed at the request of the scene commander.
  • TMCs have traffic control plans for specific types of roadway segments in their system management software and can provide advice to the incident scene commander based on these plans (L).
  • TMCs have direct link to key environmental agency personnel for use in providing support to incident scene commander and marshalling any DOT resources required for cleanup (L).
  • TMCs have access to real-time bridge and/or pavement sensor data enabling them to monitor conditions if damage from incidents or natural disaster has occurred (L).
Initiate medical assistance until help arrives
  • Freeway (safety) service patrols arriving at the scene can report their observations on medical conditions to TMC who can pass these along to incident responders traveling to the scene.
  • Patrols have personnel with EMT training who can initiate medical response prior to arrival of scene commander and other responders.
  • Patrols have capability to transmit photos from the scene to incident response personnel on the way to the scene and medical facilities preparing to receive the injured (L).
Assist motorists with disabled vehicles
  • Some freeway service patrols provide only basic services such as jump-starting and tire changing while others agencies can provide tow services directly (S).
  • TMCs or law enforcement may dispatch private towing services to take disabled vehicles off the road.
Provide motorist information
  • TMCs generally have multiple options for communicating with the public about traffic incidents, including Dynamic Message Signs, Highway Advisory Radio, web sites, and 511 telephone services.
  • Best practices are represented by TMCs who have multiple options for communicating with the public, including relationships with media and private web sites, as well developing communications through social media.
  • For major incidents, TMCs can provide up-to-date real-time information on detours being implemented and traffic conditions along those routes (L).

Source: Traffic Incident Management Resource Guide, FHWA, June 2009, p. 708.

Key: L = Large Incidents only; S = Small Incidents only; No Designation = covers both.

4.4 Traffic and Large-Scale Incidents Checklist

The TMC can use the following checklist to evaluate their current status in regard to participation in traffic and large-scale incidents (check all that apply):

Traffic Incidents

❑ Shares space with emergency operations personnel.

❑ Maintains direct links to law enforcement Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) systems, and obtain dispatch reports in near real time.

❑ Has access to the location of all DOT resources, including maintenance vehicles, and coordinate with the incident scene commander and other DOT departments to deploy these resources as needed.

❑ Provides information on the location of the incident quickly to the public through multiple communications channels.

❑ Has the ability to automatically locate and dispatch support vehicles where needed at the request of the scene commander.

❑ Has Freeway (safety) service patrols with EMT-trained personnel who can initiate medical response prior to arrival of scene commander and other responders.

❑ Has multiple options for communicating with the public, including relationships with media and private web sites, as well as developing communications through social media.

❑ Provides tow vehicles on call for multiple types of vehicles, including large trucks.

Large-Scale Incidents

❑ Uses a variety of operational systems, including ramp meters and coordination with arterial signal operations personnel to implement preplanned strategies for managing traffic in and around the incident.

❑ Identifies preplanned detours routes that are incorporated into the freeway management system.

❑ Provides automated guidance on traveler information messages, signal/ramp meter timing, and preferred detour routes.

❑ Has traffic control plans for specific types of roadway segments in the system management software.

❑ Maintains a direct link to key environmental agency personnel for use in providing support to incident scene commander and marshalling any DOT resources required for cleanup.

❑ Has access to real-time bridge and/or pavement sensor data which allows for monitoring of damage from incidents or natural disasters.

❑ Has Freeway (safety) service patrols with capability to transmit photos from the scene to incident response personnel on the way to the scene and medical facilities preparing to receive the injured.

❑ Provides up-to-date real-time information on detours and traffic conditions along those routes.

4.5 Large-Scale Emergencies

TMC personnel and technical resources (traffic data, cameras, and road weather) can provide important support during large-scale emergencies, which likely involve disruption to the transportation system and the need for evacuation of homes and businesses. Generally, small incidents occur more frequently with less impact, which means organizations are usually well equipped and practiced to handle these incidents, sometimes without external coordination or assistance of any kind.

TMCs often deal with the impacts of small incidents such as motor vehicle crashes, localized inclement weather, and road construction. As a result, TMCs are usually well prepared to deal with these small incidents internally, with minimal or only basic support from public safety and other outside agencies.

Picture of incident responders at a severe crash with a destroyed vehicle, injured persons, and debris.
Source: Digital Stock, a division of Corbis Corporation.

Large-scale incidents are by definition more complex and may require coordination and resource assistance from outside agencies, especially if the incident spans multiple jurisdictions or agencies. A hurricane, for example, would affect most agencies and jurisdictions located in the impact area. The impact and scope of large incidents requires special planning to ensure incidents which extend beyond a single agency or jurisdiction can be effectively managed and resolved.

A large-scale incident may require the TMC to play a support role for a broader emergency where it is only one of many responding agencies. TMCs are part of ESF 1: Transportation, which means they provide transportation resources and services in response to an emergency. TMCs may need to interact and coordinate extensively with outside agencies and jurisdictions, perhaps even some located out-of-state. In addition, the impacts of a larger incident may affect the communications or transportation infrastructure in ways that inhibit the response. That is why it is important for a TMC to plan for its role in supporting a large-scale emergency in the context of ESF 1.

4.5.1 Initial Recovery Phase Activities

Following are some examples of best practice emergency operations activities performed by the TMC during the initial and sustained response to a large-scale emergency:

  • Mobilize TMC representative to the appropriate state or agency EOC or Unified Command Center (UCC) as requested;
  • Configure communications to maximize interoperability with other agencies;
  • Focus information gathering resources on the incident area (cameras, traffic monitoring services, personnel on-scene) and relay information as needed;
  • Respond in a prioritized manner in accordance with decisions made either internally or externally from the EOC or UCC;
  • Fulfill resource requests as possible, while filtering requests to ensure the request is appropriate in both timing (avoiding requests for future needs) and purpose (avoiding mission/equipment mismatches); and
  • Provide public information in the form of dynamic message signs (DMS), 511 updates, and TMC social media.

Picture of a flooded out Interstate highway along the Missouri River.
Photo courtesy of the Iowa DOT.

Historic flooding along the Missouri river’s 384.6-mile course along eastern Nebraska and parts of South Dakota, Iowa, and Missouri washed out hundreds of thousands of acres of farmland, swamping rural homes, overflowing highways, and threatening cities, railroads, power plants, and airports. Since the flooding event did have some advance warning, the Iowa DOT began preparations long before the water topped the banks of the Missouri River from Sioux City south into Missouri. In early June, the Iowa DOT began preparing for what has become the worst Missouri River flooding in recorded history. Equipment and supplies were moved to higher ground, and the Onawa rest areas were closed to serve as a materials storage area for flood mitigation efforts along I-29 near Blencoe and U.S. 30 near Missouri Valley. DOT emergency managers held daily strategy sessions to set the course for the long flood event. The statewide TMC disseminated information via 511, web site, and message boards, and coordinated with other local and state agencies since the road was closed for many months.

4.5.2 Continuing Recovery Phase Activities

Following are best practice emergency operations typically performed by the TMC after the event and the recovery phase has commenced.

  • Continue focusing information gathering resources on the incident area (cameras, traffic monitoring services, personnel on-scene) and relay information as needed;
  • Continue fulfilling resource requests as possible, while filtering requests to ensure the request is appropriate in both timing (avoiding requests for future needs) and purpose (avoiding mission/equipment mismatches);
  • Provide guidance and resources to local communities and agencies as appropriate on recovery activities, including debris management; and
  • Continue providing public information in the form of DMS and sharing of appropriate information with the media.

Picture of Kansas Department of transportation personnel and National Guard personnel surveying the damage caused by a tornado.
Photo courtesy of the Kansas DOT.

An F-5 tornado ripped through the town of Greensburg and in minutes left an unimaginable path of destruction. The long road to recovery started immediately and from the beginning, the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) was there to provide a helping hand. KDOT’s efforts included search and rescue, debris removal and cleaning of roadways, and clearing property easements for restoration of utilities. KDOT deployed mobile Communications on Wheels to assist law enforcement and the National Guard. KDOT assisted with traffic control through barricades and the TMC provided message boards operations and 511 updates.

4.5.3 Implement Restoration Phase Activities

Following are best practice emergency operations activities typically performed by the TMC after the recovery phase has been concluded and the restoration phase is underway.

  • Return communications to pre-event configuration;
  • Return information gathering resources to pre-event configuration (cameras, traffic monitoring services, personnel);
  • Demobilize TMC liaison to external EOC or UCC; and
  • Retain all incident documentation and begin After Event Action Review process.

4.5.4 Integrate with State EOC Capabilities

During large-scale events, the TMC should integrate with the State EOC, which has the ability to communicate directly with local emergency management offices, state police troops or districts, and Federal agencies. Some states also have regional EOCs that coordinate disaster/emergency response with multiple communities in a geographic region. The TMC can integrate with the State EOC by sending a liaison, which aids communication, coordination, and resource request and fulfillment between the agencies. In addition, TMCs often have access to valuable camera and sensor networks that provide the State EOC and decision-makers with real-time information from the incident scene.

4.5.5 Plan for Specific Large-Scale Emergencies

Large-scale emergencies may have a long recovery phase which overlaps into the postevent phase. Activities may include reestablishing the TMC and supporting infrastructure. For large emergencies, certain hazards may also require specific additional considerations. These hazards include the following:

Terrorist Events – Public safety and transportation agencies recognize the importance of managing surface transportation during and after a terrorist incident. The same types of homeland defense information exchanged between transportation and public safety agencies can be applied to the less serious (but more common) incidents of crime and traffic law enforcement. Regular use of information between transportation and public service agencies will heighten awareness of the information’s value and increase the skills for using the information. Such an improvement will serve the public well should another terrorist event occur. To prepare for a this type of event, TMCs should do the following:

  • Anticipate the event may produce large volumes of self-evacuees who utilize the highway system. The TMC will use its traffic monitoring and management capabilities as well as maintain communication and coordination with the EOC and public safety agencies that are responding and working in the field. Monitor camera networks and access control systems for situation developments, and relay observations to EOC and/or public safety agencies as appropriate.
  • Chemical, Biological and Radiological Threats – The transportation system has particular vulnerabilities with respect to chemical, biological, and radiological threats. Regardless of the cause, the primary considerations for response management are the type and toxicity, quantity and persistence, exposure route, dispersion, and population density in the area at risk. During these incidents, TMCs should do the following:
    • Maintain contacts and relationships with agencies equipped to handle specialized incidents, including those that are chemical, biological, and radiological in nature. Rapid assessment of impacts will aid the speed, effectiveness, and safety of the response. Relay initial scene/site assessment information available to the TMC to the EOC and responding public safety agencies.
    • Help secure the affected area and activate appropriate alternate routes when the affected area will be inaccessible and unusable.

4.6 Large-Scale Emergency Checklist

The TMC can use the following checklist to evaluate their current status in regard to emergency operations activities typically performed by the TMC during the initial and sustained response, during and after the recovery phase of a large-scale emergency (check all that apply):

Initial Response

❑ Mobilizes TMC representative to the appropriate state or agency EOC or Unified Command Center (UCC) as requested.

❑ Configures communications to maximize interoperability with other agencies.

❑ Focuses information gathering resources on the incident area (cameras, traffic monitoring services, personnel on-scene) and relays information as needed.

❑ Responds in a prioritized manner in accordance with decisions made internally or externally from the EOC or UCC.

❑ Fulfills resource requests as possible, while filtering requests to ensure the request is appropriate in both timing and purpose.

❑ Provides public information in the form of dynamic message signs (DMS), 511 updates, and TMC social media.

Initial Recovery

❑ Continues focusing information gathering resources on the incident area (cameras, traffic monitoring services, personnel on-scene) and relays information as needed.

❑ Continues fulfilling resource requests as possible, while filtering requests to ensure the request is appropriate in both timing (avoiding requests for future needs) and purpose (avoiding mission/equipment mismatches).

❑ Provides guidance and resources to local communities and agencies as appropriate on recovery activities, including debris management.

❑ Continues providing public information in the form of DMS and sharing of appropriate information with the media.

After Recovery

❑ Returns communications to pre-event configuration.

❑ Returns information gathering resources to pre-event configuration (cameras, traffic monitoring services, personnel).

❑ Demobilizes TMC liaison to external EOC or UCC.

❑ Retains all incident documentation and begins After Event Action Review process.

❑ Integrates with the State EOC by sending a liaison, and provides real-time information from the incident scene.

❑ Develops a plan for large-scale emergencies that (check all that apply):

❑ Offers traffic monitoring and management capabilities, and communication and coordination functions (camera networks and access control systems) for use in handling large volumes of self-evacuees.

❑ Maintains contacts and relationships with agencies equipped to handle specialized incidents, including those that are chemical, biological, and radiological.

❑ Helps to secure the affected area and activate appropriate alternate routes when the affected area will be inaccessible and unusable.

4.7 Large Planned Events and National Special Security Events

This section describes TMC supporting activities immediately prior to, during, and after large planned special events such as National Special Security Events (NSSE).

In 1998, President Clinton issued Presidential Decision Directive 62 (PDD-62) for the purpose of formalizing and delineating the roles and responsibilities of Federal agencies in the development of security plans for major events. This Presidential Directive focused on the role of each agency and eliminated the duplication of effort and resources. The Presidential Protection Act of 2000 became public law and included in the bill, was an amendment to Title 18, USC §3056, which codified PDD-62. With the support of Federal law, the Secret Service is authorized to participate “in the planning, coordination and implementation of security operations at special events of national significance.”

The Department of Homeland Security is the lead agency for the design and implementation of an operational security plan when the Secretary of the agency designates it as a NSSE. The Secret Service has developed a core strategy to carry out its security operations, which relies heavily on its established partnerships with law enforcement and public safety officials at the local, state, and Federal levels. The goal is to provide a safe and secure environment for the individuals the Secret Service is protecting, other dignitaries, the event participants, and the public. There is a tremendous amount of advance planning and coordination prior to the event, particularly at the venue and along the motorcade route, in communications, credentialing, and training. An example of an NSSE was the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado in August 2008. The acceptance speech by nominee Barack Obama at INVESCO field before a record-setting crowd of 84,000 people was designated an NSSE.

While these preplanned and large-scale special events are not emergencies, some of the resources and actions could apply to an emergency. Specific coordination activities between the TMC and emergency operations may include monitoring and traffic control prior to the event, and monitoring of routes during the event in case of emergency or in preparation for the end of the event. TMCs also can provide support to management of exiting traffic.

4.7.1 Pre-Event Phase

During the pre-event phase, the key components of a traffic management plan include plans for site access and parking, pedestrian access, traffic flow, traffic control, en-route traveler information, traffic surveillance, traffic incident management, and safety. A planned special event increases or disrupts the normal flow of traffic and places a premium on the optimal use of existing facilities. A traffic incident and safety plan specifies crash prevention tactics and traffic incident quick clearance initiatives, some for enactment on the day of the event. During this phase, TMCs can conduct the following activities:

  • Freeway Traffic Control:
    • Ramp closures;
    • Elimination of weaving areas;
    • Alternate routes; and
    • Ramp metering adjustments.
  • Street Traffic Control:
    • Lane Control;
    • Alternative Lane Operations;
    • Trailblazer signing; and
    • Parking management.
  • Intersection Traffic Control:
    • Access Restriction;
    • Advance Signing; and
    • Traffic Signal Timing and Coordination.
  • Traffic Incident Management:
    • Service Patrols;
    • Tow Truck Staging;
    • Quick Clearance; and
    • Advance Warning Signs.

Picture of a congested limited access highway.
Source: Comstock Images.

  • Traffic Surveillance:
    • CCTV;
    • Media Reports; and
    • Temporary ITS for detection and surveillance.
  • En-Route Traveler Information:
    • Dynamic Message Signs;
    • Highway Advisory Radio;
    • 511 Phone Systems;
    • Media; and
    • Smart Phone Apps/In-vehicle devices.
  • Pre-Trip Traveler Information:
    • Internet;
    • 511 Phone Systems;
    • Pre-event public relations campaign;
    • Media; and
    • Roadside Traveler Information Systems.

If the planned event warrants preparation of a formal traffic management plan, it will define how the TMC conducts certain functions and roles. These may be primary roles (surveillance, detection, message sign operation, ramp meter control), support roles (public relations campaign, tow truck staging), or coordinating roles (signal systems operation, service patrols).

The TMC may also conduct crash prevention tactics that focus on improving driver awareness of surroundings and driver behavior during planned special events, including portable lighting, congestion warning signs, public information safety campaigns, and enforcement.

4.7.2 Response and Recovery Phases

On the day of the planned event, team organization includes agency representatives stationed at a central command post, at secondary command posts, at a permanent TMC, and at strategic locations in the field for traffic control and observation. The traffic management team generally functions under the ICS to ensure successful deployment of the traffic management plan and minimal impact to transportation system users. Unified command functions coordinate interjurisdictional and multidisciplinary stakeholders among the traffic management team so there is no sacrifice of 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.

Picture of a safety message on a Dynamic Message Sign.
Source: Cambridge Systematics, Inc.

A number of factors affect traffic conditions either shortly before, or during the event. For events such as the Super Bowl and the NCAA Final Four, for instance, the participating teams are not known until shortly before the event (two weeks for the Super Bowl, one for the Final Four). Depending on the proximity of the participants, the mix of people driving or flying into the host city can vary greatly, with significant impacts on local traffic. Attendance at major festivals can also vary and a sudden outbreak of bad weather during an outdoor event can change the anticipated timing and patterns of traffic. As a result, plans need to be adjusted in the period immediately prior to the event or in some cases during the event. As an organization with the ability to monitor conditions over a wide area, the TMC may take on a greater role to address immediate changes. For the TMC, specific day-of-event activities involve the following:

  • Support the implementation and operation of the traffic management plan by coordinating with field personnel to make sure temporary traffic modifications are in place. The TMC will activate DMS and other traveler information services to remind the public of the event and inform them of traffic changes (Freeway Management and Operations Handbook, FHWA, 2003, Updated 2006, 11-16.).
  • Monitor a potential fluid situation and provide inputs on how the plan is working and what adjustments may be required in real time (Freeway Management and Operations Handbook, FHWA, 2003, Updated 2006, 11-16.). Traffic monitoring represents an important day-of-event activity, serving to provide traffic and incident management support in addition to performance evaluation data. A traffic engineer should be available to the TMC to review historical data on traffic volumes and speeds as well as any projections made for the event. If projections are not accurate, the TMC can coordinate changes in the original plan and implement those elements residing in the TMC. Timely deployment of such contingency plans developed during the operations planning phase can depend on the TMC’s accurate collection and communication of real-time traffic data between traffic management team members.
  • Monitor traffic conditions; provide traveler information services; coordinate with DOT maintenance and field crews to provide additional resources where needed; coordinate with local agencies that control signals and local streets, ramp meter operation; and support quick clearance and incident management activities.

Picture of a football game.
Source: Digital Stock, a division of Corbis Corporation.

4.7.3 Postevent Phase

The postevent phase for preplanned and large-scale special events is similar to other major events. Key events to conduct after special events with TMC participation include the following:

  • A debriefing with all stakeholders to review the original plan and compare it to the actual events to see what aspects of the plan worked and which need improvement. The TMC, which usually has resources to display data and graphics, could serve as host.
  • A postevent report documenting the event and making recommendations for improvements in the process. The TMC should play a key role in the transportation section of the report, including documentation of traffic volumes, speeds, and times required to clear parking areas and key intersections. Timelines and documentation on implementation of specific strategies (changes in signal timing/operation, opening and closing of ramps and streets, etc.) should also be included.
  • Documentation of any exceptional costs incurred in transportation activities, which is helpful if there are cost-recovery agreements with venue owners, event sponsors, or other agencies. It can also be used for the planning and development of future agreements.
  • Archiving data and event documentation for use in future planning efforts.

4.8 Large Planned Events Checklist

The TMC can use the following checklist to evaluate their current status in regard to participation in large planned events (check all that apply):

Pre-Event Phase

❑ Conducts Freeway Traffic Control through ramp closures, elimination of weaving areas, identification of alternate routes, and ramp metering adjustments.

❑ Maintains street traffic control through lane control, alternative lane operations, trailblazer signing, and parking management.

❑ Maintains intersection traffic control by access restriction, advance signing, and traffic signal timing and coordination.

❑ Conducts traffic incident management through service patrols, two truck staging, quick clearance, and advance warning signs.

❑ Conducts traffic surveillance through CCTV, media reports, and temporary ITS detection and surveillance.

❑ Provides en-route traveler information via DMS, Highway Advisory Radio, 511 systems, media, and smart phone apps/in-vehicle decisions.

❑ Provides pretrip traveler information through the Internet, 511 systems, pre-event public relations campaign, media, and roadside traveler information systems.

❑ Conducts crash prevention tactics, including portable lighting, congestion warning signs, public information safety campaign, and enforcement.

Response and Recovery Phases

❑ Coordinates with field personnel to make sure temporary traffic modifications are in place, i.e., DMS and other traveler information services.

❑ Monitors traffic conditions; provide traveler information services; coordinate with DOT maintenance and field crews to provide additional resources where needed.

❑ Coordinates with local agencies that control signals and local streets, ramp meter operation.

❑ Supports quick clearance and incident management activities.

Postevent Phase

❑ Participates in a debriefing with all stakeholders to review the original plan and compare it to the actual events to see what aspects of the plan worked and which need improvement.

❑ Assists with the transportation section of a postevent report documenting the event and making recommendations for improvements in the process.

❑ Documents any exceptional costs incurred in transportation activities.

❑ Archives data and event documentation for use in future planning efforts.

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