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Managing Travel for Planned Special Events
FHWA Report No.: FHWA-OP-04-033
EDL No.: 13903
Planned Special Events
A planned special event is a public activity with a scheduled time, location and duration that may impact the normal operation of the surface transportation system due to increased travel demand and/or reduced capacity attributed to event staging.
Planned special events include sporting events, concerts, festivals, and conventions occurring at permanent multi-use venues (e.g., arenas, stadiums, racetracks, fairgrounds, amphitheaters, convention centers). 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 operational characteristics of planned special events create the following five event categories:
What is Managing Travel for Planned Special Events?
Managing travel for planned special events involves advanced operations planning, stakeholder coordination and partnerships, developing a multi-agency transportation management plan, raising awareness of general public and event patrons of potential travel impacts, and coordinating agency services and resource sharing.
The goals of managing travel for planned special events are:
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:
The proactive management of travel for planned special events yields numerous benefits to stakeholders and transportation system operations, including:
Regional Planning and Coordination
Regional planning and coordination concerns proactively improving travel management for all planned special events in a region. Key initiatives include:
Regional planning and coordination initiatives facilitate more effective and efficient event-specific planning and operations for future planned special events.
Event-Specific Travel Management
The practice of managing travel for planned special events incorporates advance planning, management, and evaluation activities encompassing five distinct, chronological phases:
Additional Resources and Training
Other resources and tools include:
"Effectively managing planned special events requires a great deal of preparation by many stakeholders. Key considerations include establishing critical stakeholder partnerships, developing traffic control strategies, and understanding the importance, and benefits, to our customers of being proactive in effectively managing traffic for these events." – Mark Newland, ITS Program Director, Indiana Department of Transportation
“If we do not plan for planned special events then we must react to them and this results in the inefficient use of resources. The opportunity to explore options through advance planning, and build strong partnerships through discussion of alternatives, is the key to our success in managing planned special events.” – Robert Boggs, City Traffic Engineer, City of Daytona Beach, Florida
“Too often, planners for planned special events are not overwhelmed by the event itself, but by the effects of the event on the transportation system as a whole. Planning activities require a community-wide, multi-agency approach for managing transportation operations during planned special events. Such an approach has worked very well for us in San Antonio.” – Patrick Irwin, Director of Transportation Operations--TransGuide, Texas Department of Transportation, San Antonio District
For More Information:
The Managing Travel for Planned Special Events Handbook is available on the ITS Electronic Document Library at http://www.its.dot.gov and TMC Pooled-Fund Study website at http://tmcpfs.ops.fhwa.dot.gov
For information on the TMC Pooled-Fund Study, visit our website at
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