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21st Century Operations Using 21st Century Technologies

Using Capability Maturity Frameworks for Transportation System Management and Operations (TSMO) Program Advancement:
Case Studies and Lessons Learned

Chapter 4. Work Zone Management Capability Maturity Framework

Framework Overview

The Work Zone Management (WZM) CMF assesses the capability for effective work zone traffic management, including assessing work zone impacts and implementing strategies for mitigating the impacts.

Use of the Framework

Recommended if an agency has significant upcoming reconstruction and maintenance activities, is considering implementing work zone ITS technology, or is in the middle of updating the State's process review for work zones.

Link to the CMF

Level of Deployment

To date, 16 DOTs have used the CMF process and have involved close to 350 personnel involved in work zone activities. There are several States in the pipeline for the CMF assessment. While there is no requirement to use the framework, FHWA has used the CMF to conduct the work zone process reviews, which are required per 23 CFR Part 630.

Sample of Actions from the Framework

The WZM CMF identifies around 100 actions across all the dimensions of capability. Below are some sample actions:

  • Convene key personnel within the agency to decide how road user charges resulting from WZM efforts will be included in project development.
  • Develop information resources for work zone designers and managers on the availability and expected effect of new WZM technologies and innovations. Establish mechanisms to periodically update these resources.
  • Identify work zone safety, mobility, customer satisfaction, and work productivity or efficiency outcome measures that are specified or implied in the agency's work zone safety and mobility policy.
  • Distribute a list of critical WZM knowledge and skills throughout the agency and encourage training and capability-building efforts to develop the knowledge and skills.
  • Establish a process for reporting critical WZM benefits and innovative practices for big projects to key staff within the organization and to key external partners.
  • Periodically review processes for considering WZM needs for law enforcement, funding levels, and implementation procedures.

Case 4: Kansas Department of Transportation

Representatives from many offices within the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) met with FHWA for the WZM CMF assessment in Lawrence, Kansas. KDOT requested the CMF assessment to identify work-zone-related needs and communicate them throughout the agency, to help gain buy-in with upper management, and to help secure resources to complete priority action items. The aim from KDOT's perspective was to identify the gaps in KDOT's existing WZM program, focus on how to better minimize work zone impacts on regional travel, and integrate WZM into other forms of traffic management.

Snapshot of WZM CMF Use at KDOT

Timeframe: December 2014.

Sponsoring agency: KDOT.

Motivation: Identify the gaps in KDOT's existing WZM program, focus on how to better minimize work zone impacts on regional travel, and integrate WZM into other forms of traffic management.

Feedback on CMF: Overall, the CMF aided KDOT's process reviews and spurred the creation of a guidebook that will likely have cascading positive effects. However, many of the desired outcomes were encumbered by staff departures, organizational shakeups, and limited resources.

Message for other agencies: While the CMF can identify actions and areas for improvement, staff resources must be made available and sustained for the improvements to occur.

For More Information

Garry Olson

Jawad Paracha

photograph of a highway taken at the beginning of work zone
Figure 7. Image. KDOT's interest in the WZM CMF was to provide more visibility into WZM-related needs and gaps (Source: FHWA).

Key Outcomes

The WZM CMF assessment noted that KDOT had room for growth in WZM, particularly in the development of more clearly defined performance measures, policies, and procedures. The workshop highlighted KDOT's strong collaborative abilities within its many divisions and with outside parties, but to advance WZM further, there would need to be more clearly defined processes to streamline operations. While KDOT is actively implementing action items, changes to staffing and other resource challenges have limited the ability of KDOT to carry out some recommendations from the assessment at this time.

Nonetheless, KDOT has focused its efforts on improving business processes and especially in documenting some of the work zone process steps—considered the most critical development from the CMF workshop. KDOT is currently developing a work zone policy and procedures guide. This guide will compile and document the many practices and procedures that KDOT has used for many years but have not yet been in a single resource. This formal documentation will allow for easier delegation, delineation of responsibility, and efficiency within the organization.

As is the case in many agencies, day-to-day responsibilities create challenges to long-term investments in capability—one of the key issues the new guidance should help with. This guidebook is still the top priority for KDOT staff in advancing the agency's capability because it formalizes a lot of process steps that will make the staff responsibilities clearer.

KDOT staff already has strong collaborative relationships, resulting in a higher level of capability in communication. Thus, the CMF did not identify any action items needed related to agency communications. Instead, the biggest remaining cultural challenge is staffing since the heavy focus on existing work often precludes KDOT staff from being open to new ideas.

Finally, as a side outcome, KDOT's process review was due in the months following the CMF workshop. Assessment results helped KDOT improve its process reviews. Additionally, KDOT indicated that the workshop summary report was helpful during staff turnover. It helped them established well-documented and supported priorities, allowing new staff to immediately continue work on action items that were the responsibility of their predecessor.


Unfortunately, staffing turnover and limited resources have stymied much of KDOT's recommended technology- and data-related actions in the workshop. The departure of a key staff member who orchestrated the first workshop presented a large challenge.

Also, KDOT's technological capabilities are still limited and have perhaps regressed. Compounding the existing issues of finding time and resources for new endeavors, a reorganization of the IT department has made it more cumbersome for KDOT staff to seek help on technology-related matters.

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