Work Zone Mobility and Safety Program

Work Zone Mobility and Safety Self-Assessment Guide

4. Assessment Areas

The WZ SA consists of six primary assessment areas:

  • Leadership and Policy
  • Project Planning and Programming
  • Project Design
  • Project Construction and Operations
  • Communications and Education
  • Program Evaluation

Within the topics, we have broken work zone projects into four types, which are characterized by the various levels of impact each will have on travelers. Table 4 shows some suggested characteristics of these types of projects.

Table 4. Work Impact Types
Type Characteristics Examples
Type I
  • Affects the traveling public at the metropolitan, regional, intrastate, and possibly interstate level.
  • Very high level of public interest.
  • Directly affects a very large number of travelers.
  • Significant user cost impacts
  • Very long duration
  • Central Artery/Tunnel in Boston, Massachusetts
  • Woodrow Wilson Bridge in Maryland/Virginia/District of Columbia
  • Springfield Interchange "Mixing Bowl" in Springfield, Virginia
  • I-15 reconstruction in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Type II
  • Affects the traveling public predominantly at the metropolitan and regional level.
  • Moderate to high level of public interest.
  • Directly affects a moderate to high number of travelers.
  • Moderate to high user cost impacts
  • Duration is moderate to long.
  • Major corridor reconstruction
  • High-impact interchange improvements
  • Full closures on high-volume facilities
  • Major bridge repair
  • Repaving projects that require long term lane closures
Type III
  • Affects the traveling public at the metropolitan or regional level.
  • Low to moderate level of public interest.
  • Directly affects a low to moderate level of travelers.
  • Low to moderate user cost impacts
  • May include lane closures for a moderate duration.
  • Repaving work on roadways and the National Highway System (NHS) with moderate Average Daily Traffic (ADT)
  • Minor bridge repair
  • Shoulder repair and construction
  • Minor interchange repairs
Type IV
  • Affects the traveling public to a small degree.
  • Low public interest.
  • Duration is short to moderate.
  • Work zones are usually mobile and typically recurring.
  • Certain low-impact striping work
  • Guardrail repair
  • Minor shoulder repair
  • Pothole patching
  • Very minor joint sealing
  • Minor bridge painting
  • Sign repair
  • Mowing

NOTE: These levels may not encompass all possible combinations or degrees of work zone categories. Become familiar with the work impact levels and relate them to work being accomplished in your state, regional, or local area. Some terms are general to allow flexibility in categorizing borderline project types.

The following sections describe each assessment area and explain essential components of each question.

4.1 Leadership and Policy

Agency leadership support should drive overall policy making for the agency. This support fosters an environment conducive to developing an effective work zone program. Project planning, design, and construction and maintenance activities should all incorporate work zone mobility and safety impacts and mitigation strategies. Agency management should facilitate and encourage a multidisciplinary approach to traffic management throughout all phases in the life of a project. Senior managers should be personally, visibly, and proactively involved in efforts to minimize work zone delays and enhance the safety of the motorist and workers in work zones.

Goals provide high-level direction and establish expectations for agency staff. Clear and specific goal statements such as "Reduce congestion and delay in work zones by 10% in 5 years" establish a basis on which to develop strategies and actions. Use performance measures to assess progress toward fulfillment of a goal. For example, to track progress toward reduction of work zone delays, an agency may gather information regarding the total vehicle hours of delay in work zones and track these values over time.

4.1.1 Process to Determine Project Impact Type

Question: Has the agency developed a process to determine whether a project is impact type I, II, III, or IV?

Agencies should have a process to classify projects into project types, given likely travel time and delay impacts. Such a process will be useful in developing policies and practices for the design and management of work zones for several reasons. First of all, the process will help the agency staff understand how and when to develop work zone strategies. The process will also help agency staff understand the importance of work zone activities and enable them to discuss with the public why actions are being implemented.

Generally, the process will classify projects into those with a high impact and those with a low impact. Considerations to determine the classification include the project size and complexity, construction time, and traffic volume affected.

4.1.2 Strategic Goals to Reduce Congestion and Delays in Work Zones

Question: Has the agency established strategic goals specifically to reduce congestion and delays in work zones?

An agency should adopt written strategic goals to reduce congestion and delay in work zones. The process of developing and adopting goals enables the agency to examine the importance of reducing congestion and delay in work zones and opens an agencywide dialogue about addressing the identified challenges. The products of these discussions should include specific goals that can set direction and establish expectations. To provide clear guidance and direction to operating departments, top management should support the development of goals that focus on reducing work zone congestion and delay. Such goals would provide a basis for priority setting and resource allocation and would signal to agency staff members and stakeholders the importance of considering work zone congestion and delay while planning and making decisions.

Strategic goals set the agency's vision, expectations, and direction. For example, an agency may adopt the following goal: "Reduce congestion and delay in work zones by 10% over the next 5 years." This goal would then serve as the basis for actions designed to meet this requirement in the specified time frame.

4.1.3 Strategic Goals to Reduce Crashes in Work Zones

Question: Has the agency established strategic goals specifically to reduce crashes in work zones?

Over recent years, the number of people killed in motor vehicle crashes in work zones has increased from 789 in 1995 to an all-time high of 1,026 in 2000. Each year, more than 80% of all fatalities in work zone crashes are motor vehicle occupants. In addition, crashes cause more than 40,000 injuries in work zones each year.

To eliminate fatalities, injuries, and property damage, and to enhance the safety of the traveling public and workers, agencies should adopt strategic goals focused on reducing crashes in work zones. By adopting such goals, agencies would signal to staff members and stakeholders the importance of considering crash reduction during decision-making and when they are planning, designing, constructing, maintaining, and operating work zone projects.

An agency may adopt a goal such as "Reduce crashes in work zones by 25% over the next 5 years" to provide direction to agency staff and stakeholders and to signal to agency staff members that reducing crashes in work zones is an important part of the agency's mission. Tracking progress toward goals provides a basis to formulate and evaluate actions designed to reduce crashes.

4.1.4 Performance Measures for Work Zone Congestion and Delay

Question: Has the agency established measures (e.g., vehicle throughput or queue length) to track work zone congestion and delay?

Measuring the performance of work zones is an important element of total quality management, because the feedback provided to management from performance measures (e.g., vehicle throughput, queue length, or vehicle delay) establishes a basis from which to examine progress toward goals.

For example, suppose an agency establishes a goal to reduce total delay in work zones by 10% during the next 5 years. To measure progress toward this goal, the agency must develop a method to measure delay. The agency may choose to measure delay by gathering data on the total vehicle hours of delay experienced by the traveling public each year in all work zones. The number of total vehicle hours of delay could be tracked to determine whether it is increasing, decreasing, or remaining the same. If it is not decreasing, then the agency needs to examine and adjust its strategies to reduce delay.

4.1.5 Performance Measures for Work Zone Crashes

Question: Has the agency established measures (e.g., crash rates) to track work zone crashes?

As with work zone congestion and delay, agencies should develop performance measures to track work zone crashes over time. These measures should be based on agency goals and should provide a basis to assess progress toward these goals. The agency should collect crash data on a systematic basis, store these data, and analyze them to develop appropriate performance measures such as crash rates. The resources available to support the development of these performance measures would reflect a strong agency commitment to reducing crashes in work zones.

4.1.6 Policies to Develop Transportation Management Plans

Question: Has the agency established a policy for the development of Transportation Management Plans to reduce work zone congestion and crashes?

A Transportation Management Plan describes the level and nature of impacts resulting from work zone activities and identify specific mitigation strategies. The need to develop a Transportation Management Plan will depend on the potential traffic impact (i.e., type I, II, III, or IV).

Agencies should establish written policies that describe how Transportation Management Plans will be developed to reduce congestion and crashes caused by work zones. These policies should address when and how Transportation Management Plans will be developed, and who will develop them.

The Transportation Management Plan can include both supply management as well as demand management plans to mitigate impacts. Supply management plans would include alternative detour routes, traffic signing plans, traffic signal plans, and public involvement and outreach. Demand management plans would include staggered work hours, increased public transportation, ridesharing, and accurate and current travel information.

The Transportation Management Plan also describes how information will be distributed to the public regarding impacts and alternative mitigation strategies.

A Traffic Control Plan for the project would be a sub element of the broader Transportation Management Plan. A Traffic Control Plan handles traffic through a specific highway work zone and includes plans to address requirements of Part VI of the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD).

4.1.7 Work Zone Traffic Performance Guidance

Question: Has the agency established work zone performance guidance that addresses maximum queue lengths, the number of open lanes, maximum traveler delay, etc.?

Agencies should develop guidance that addresses traffic performance issues such as maximum queue length, the number of lanes to remain open, and maximum traveler delay. Such guidance provides specific measures to help agency staff members plan and manage work zone performance. This guidance will be useful in establishing acceptable performance levels for work zone operations, and can also serve as a basis for developing appropriate mitigation strategies and actions. In addition, these measures communicate to the public the performance goals of the agency and establish expectations regarding performance.

4.1.8 Criteria to Support Night Work and Full Closure Strategies

Question: Has the agency established criteria to support the use of project execution strategies (e.g., night work and full closure) to reduce public exposure to work zones and reduce the duration of work zones?

Agencies should develop criteria to determine when night work or full closure strategies are appropriate. Working at night, when traffic volumes are usually lower, can reduce overall vehicle delay through the work zone. In addition, fully closing a road may result in accelerating construction time and therefore reducing motorist delay. Agencies may formulate specific criteria or thresholds to determine when to implement night work or full closure strategies. These criteria include factors such as the length of the construction period, traffic volume, user costs, and other perceived impacts.

4.1.9 Innovative Contracting Strategies

Question: Has the agency developed policies to support the use of innovative contracting strategies to reduce contract performance periods?

Agencies should develop policies that support the use of innovative contracting strategies to accelerate construction time periods. Accelerating construction time will reduce the amount of time motorists are exposed to delay and congestion. Innovative contracting strategies minimize the duration of work zone activities by providing contractors with financial or other incentives to improve the efficiency and timeliness of project activities. Some examples of innovative contracting strategies are flexible start times, A+B contracting, and incentive or disincentive (I/D) clauses. I/D clauses may include "window specifications" and "flexible start date contracts".

4.1.10 Memorandum of Understanding

Question: Has the agency established Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) between utility suppliers to promote the proactive coordination of long-range transportation plans with long-range utility plans, with the goal of reducing project delays and minimizing the number of work zones on the highway?

To avoid prolonged delay in work zones, agencies should develop MOUs with utility providers to coordinate construction schedules and to define how coordination occurs. It may be desirable to overlap or, in some cases, avoid overlapping, utility and transportation projects.

4.2 Project Planning and Programming

While transportation planning and implementation processes differ significantly from state to state, they all focus on developing increased capacity and efficiency in the transportation system. They do this by developing long-range transportation plans (LRTP), transportation improvement program plans (TIP), unified planning work programs (UPWP), and in some cases congestion management system (CMS) plans.

Transportation management and operations (M&O) processes are increasingly important to the planning professional. Metropolitan areas account for 75% of the nation's population and 83% of its economic output. They are centers for social as well as economic activity and are the hubs of the national transportation system. In addition, they are portals for people and freight moving between the United States and other countries. To meet the challenge of continued social mobility, the planning community will need to take a more active role in the development and implementation of transportation system M&O strategies.

Although the role of planners in the development of project-specific criteria has not been universally defined, the complexity of our transportation systems and the impact of congestion on our nation will necessitate input from planners during the project development process, as shown by the following example roles:

  • Use analytical traffic models to assess the system-wide impacts of specific project requirements.
  • Evaluate programming estimates to ensure that the proper level of funding is included to mitigate traffic congestion and improve safety through work zones.
  • Provide the critical "bridge" of knowledge between the planning world and the design world to reduce the impacts of work zones on the traveling public.

4.2.1 Use of Analytical Tools

Question: Does the agency's planning process actively use analytical traffic modeling programs to determine the impact of future type I and II road construction and maintenance activities on network performance?

Current and future network capacity forecasts are focused on providing a certain level of mobility to the traveling public. The planner plays a key role in looking forward to determine what network system improvements are needed and when they should be in place. To accurately assess the performance of a network system, the planner must know the configuration of the network and use analytical models to determine projected volume capabilities. Being aware of conditions that affect the configuration and capacity of a roadway is essential to making accurate capacity predictions. To maintain the projected traffic volumes on any facility, the planner should actively involve operation planners and designers in the early planning process to account for system operational impacts caused by type I and II reconstruction and maintenance.

4.2.2 Alternative Network Options

Question: Does the agency's planning process include developing alternative network options (e.g., frontage roads, increased capacity on parallel arterials, beltways, or strategically placed connectors) to maintain traffic volumes caused by future road construction and maintenance?

A critical part of planning a transportation network is the process of analyzing origins and destinations, links and nodes, attractions, modes, etc. The desired outcome of this process is a transportation network that allows the public to move from point to point with a certain degree of efficiency and comfort. To accomplish this, the transportation planner should be aware of the operational impacts that future construction, repair, and maintenance activities have on system performance. Input from operations, design, construction, and maintenance engineers is critical to knowing what future system constraints and impacts will be caused by repair and maintenance activities. Knowing future system impacts will enable the agency to plan for them and provide alternative network options for the traveling public. Planners should anticipate the need to reconstruct and maintain principal arterials and know what the capacity reduction factors will be. Planners should analyze the surrounding network to determine the best mitigation strategies (e.g., rerouting alternatives, larger volumes on parallel facilities, and strategically placed lateral connectors) to properly scope a project.

4.2.3 Project Prioritization

Question: Does the agency's planning process manage the transportation improvement program to eliminate network congestion caused by poorly prioritized and uncoordinated execution of projects?

To avoid multiple uncoordinated projects on major traffic corridors, agencies should coordinate the schedules for projects and programs among the various implementing organizations. If planners do not consider the entire network performance when developing the transportation improvement program, major corridor disruptions can affect the entire network's performance. For example, if a major corridor project forces travelers to alternate routes, planners should ensure that the alternate routes can accommodate the additional traffic. When ranking transportation improvement projects, planners should develop project prioritization criteria that include the impact of a system operation.

4.2.4 Operational and Traffic Management Costs

Question: Does the agency's transportation planning process include a planning cost estimate review for work types I, II, and III that accounts for traffic management costs (e.g., incident management, public information campaigns, positive separation elements, uniformed law enforcement, and intelligent transportation systems [ITS])?

At the planning/programming stage, project cost estimators should consider the added costs of traffic management that are associated with work zones. Some agencies routinely include these costs, while others do not. Failure to consider these costs often causes projects to be inadequately funded to support items such as ITS, public information campaigns, police enforcement teams, and positive separation devices when design begins. Failure may also result in work zones with poor traffic management strategies, leading to work disruptions, contract extensions, angry travelers, and unsafe conditions.

4.2.5 Planning Support During Design Activities

Question: Does the agency's transportation planning process include the active involvement of planners during the project design stage to assist in the development of congestion mitigation strategies for type I and II projects?

During the project delivery process, planners spend considerable time analyzing the impacts of future growth and development on the transportation network. This network includes minor and major transportation corridors that are the backbones of public mobility and links that are significant for the distribution of goods to the region. Disruption of these corridors can have a devastating impact on the local and regional economy and only increases the frustration of the traveling public with work zone congestion. Planners have a unique perspective on the entire network and can best assess the impacts of specific operational strategies on the system. Because of this perspective, planners should provide the designers with system-level insight and advice on specific design solutions. Planners should champion solutions that will best facilitate network operational performance and should maintain contact with project team members throughout the process to provide system-level input at project review meetings.

4.2.6 Transportation Management Plan Development

Question: Does the agency's transportation planning process engage planners as part of a multidisciplinary/multiagency team in the development of Transportation Management Plans involving major corridor improvements?

While there is no universal guidance on the content of a Transportation Management Plan, a Transportation Management Plan generally consists of both demand management and supply management strategies to mitigate the impact of work zone activities on congestion and traveler delay. Demand management strategies may include alternative work hours, carpooling, promotion of alternative modes, and public involvement and outreach. Supply management strategies may include detour routes, signing, channelization, ITS, and relevant, timely, and accurate traveler information.

Planners should be involved in the Transportation Management Plan development team as early as possible to bring a regional perspective to transportation program requirements. Planners should provide the link between technical design considerations and social and political considerations.

4.3 Project Design

Project designers, working in concert with other functional experts, should consider maintenance of traffic during construction early in the design process. Designers should examine the use of different project execution strategies that can accelerate construction time and minimize the exposure of travelers to work zones. In addition, designers should actively lead the preparation of Transportation Management Plans, including Traffic Control Plans that will mitigate the impact of work zone activities.

4.3.1 Road User Costs

Question: Does the agency have a process to estimate road user costs and use them to evaluate and select project strategies (full closure, night work, traffic management alternatives, detours, etc.) for type I and II projects?

Reducing the amount of time drivers are exposed to work zones will result in less congestion and delay. Among the strategies to accelerate construction are full road closures and working at night. Closing a facility during construction activities removes the need to maintain traffic flow during the construction period, while conducting work at night exposes fewer drivers to work zone congestion and delay because traffic is generally lighter at night.

Agencies should apply a process to evaluate the costs of full road closure and night work strategies during the design phase of project development. While no standard process is recommended, road user costs include vehicle operation and maintenance as well as travel time and delay costs associated with using a highway. The process should include the calculation of road user costs while maintaining traffic in and around the work zone using traditional strategies. Road user costs should also be developed for full road closure and night work scenarios. If road user costs are lower under full road closure or night work scenarios, the agency then has a basis to explain to its stakeholders the desirability of pursuing these "innovative" project strategies.

4.3.2 Development of Transportation Management Plan during Design

Question: Does the agency develop a Transportation Management Plan that addresses all operational impacts focused on project congestion for type I and II projects?

The Transportation Management Plan for type I and II projects should be developed during the design phase of project development, when the final project scope, cost, and schedule are refined. As described earlier, a Transportation Management Plan describes the actions to be implemented to mitigate work zone congestion and delay during project construction (e.g., alternative work hours, carpooling, promotion of alternative modes, public involvement and outreach, detour routes, signing, channelization, ITS, and relevant, timely, and accurate traveler information). Because many strategies in the Transportation Management Plan may influence the project scope, cost, and schedule, designers should address this plan as part of the design process. For example, a mitigation action contained in the Transportation Management Plan may include the construction of a temporary detour route around a construction site. This would have to be included in project design activities to ensure that temporary facilities are properly incorporated into the project design.

4.3.3 Use of Multidisciplinary Teams to Develop Transportation Management Plans

Question: Does the agency use multidisciplinary teams consisting of agency staff to develop Transportation Management Plans for type I and II projects?

The quality and effectiveness of a Transportation Management Plan can be enhanced through the use of a multidisciplinary team drawn from planning, design, traffic engineering, and maintenance. Any Transportation Management Plan for a type I or II project should make use of a multidisciplinary team.

Planners may help the team understand the relationship between a particular project and an overall transportation program; for example, they may bring overlapping projects to the attention of the design team. Maintenance engineers may identify unique post-completion project maintenance problems that may affect the development of the Transportation Management Plan, such as including full-depth shoulders in a design because maintenance vehicles may have to access the project site during construction.

Such teams can generate more effective, proactive traffic management plans.

4.3.4 Constructability Reviews

Question: Does the agency perform constructability reviews that include project strategies to reduce congestion and traveler delays during construction and maintenance for type I and II projects?

A constructability review enables the design team to understand issues that may influence the final project design. Such reviews often involve a site visit to examine the physical characteristics of the site. This review defines when the project will start and end, how the project will be integrated into the existing transportation system, and which utilities will need removal or relocation. The constructability review also considers work zone strategies that would reduce delay and congestion during construction and maintenance activities. The review determines whether it is possible to execute some features of the Transportation Management Plan or elements of the Traffic Control Plan. Constructability reviews ensure that a plan can be implemented in the field and should be conducted early in the design process to avoid major redesign.

4.3.5 Contractor Reviews

Question: Does the agency use independent contractors or contractor associations to provide construction process input to expedite project contract time for type I and II projects?

Agencies should use third-party contractors or contractor associates to validate construction time estimates. The length of construction time is a key component in determining how long motorists will be exposed to work zone congestion and delay. Contractor experience in executing plans should be used to better understand this component. In addition, involving contractors early in the design process can help identify alternative designs that may speed construction time and reduce motorist exposure. It is important to recognize that a disinterested, third-party contractor can provide objectivity to contract time estimates.

4.3.6 Use of Scheduling Techniques

Question: Does the agency use scheduling techniques that are based on time and performance, such as the critical path method or parametric models, to determine contract performance times for type I and II projects?

Agencies should apply scheduling techniques to determine contract construction duration for type I and II projects. Such tools will provide a basis for ensuring that the amount of time that motorists are exposed to construction congestion and delay is minimized. Techniques such as the critical path method (CPM) can establish construction performance periods. Developing parametric models to determine contract performance times can leverage previous experience in construction time periods for other similar projects.

4.3.7 Intelligent Transportation System Technology Strategies

Question: Does the agency have a process to evaluate the appropriate use of ITS technologies to minimize congestion in and around work zones for type I, II, and III projects?

Agencies should examine the use of ITS to mitigate work zone congestion and delay during the design process for type I, II, and III projects. Deployment of ITS technologies can encompass technologies such as portable traffic management or traveler information systems, warning systems, speed management systems, enforcement systems, and other supporting technologies. ITS offers opportunities to provide essential information to travelers to help them avoid work zones, plan trips, and safely travel through work areas.

Deployment of ITS in work zones is currently not widespread. However, as technologies are improved, ITS will likely become more significant elements in managing traffic in and around work zones.

4.3.8 Life-Cycle Costing

Question: Does the agency use life-cycle costing when selecting materials to reduce the frequency and duration of work zones for type I, II, and III projects?

Life-cycle costing should be part of the design process for type I, II, and III projects. Life-cycle costing accounts for the total cost of a project over its useful life, including the need to construct, maintain, and operate facilities, and is an important element in selecting materials for construction. The use of life-cycle costing to select materials, products, and processes can provide designers with a way to maximize project service life and minimize required repair. By minimizing the frequency of repair, agencies can reduce the frequency and duration of work zones required to repair facilities. This means that the total exposure to work zone delay and congestion can be minimized.

4.3.9 Positive Barrier Systems

Question: Does the agency have a process to assess projects for the use of positive separation devices for type I and II projects?

For type I and II projects, during the project scope development, the designer should examine the need for positive separation devices. It is critical that this element be considered early enough to include appropriate funding. Processes should take into account the facility type, daily and peak hour traffic, adjacent hazards, location, facility geometry, weather conditions, available space, and vehicle types. The deployment of positive barrier systems can contribute to a safer environment for workers, higher-quality work, faster construction performance, and a higher rate of travel flow through the work zone and can provide a system of capacity control (e.g., reversible flow).

4.3.10 Mitigation of Future Congestion

Question: Does the agency anticipate and design projects to mitigate future congestion impacts of repair and maintenance for type I, II, and III projects?

Agencies should consider the need to mitigate future congestion associated with repair and maintenance activities during the design of type I, II, and III projects. The project design should incorporate features that accommodate the need for future repair and/or maintenance activities. Wider shoulders, for example, ensure that maintenance vehicles can access the facility without affecting the flow of traffic significantly. While it is not possible to include all features that may assist in accommodating future repair activities, it is useful to recognize these needs as part of the design process to ensure that such features are included in the project design.

4.3.11 Contractor Involvement in Traffic Control Plans

Question: When developing the Traffic Control Plan for a project, does the agency involve contractors on type I and II projects?

A Traffic Control Plan directs traffic through a specific highway or street work zone or project. Agencies should involve contractors during the design process to help develop such plans. Traffic Control Plans may be very detailed and may include references to standard plans, a section of the MUTCD, or a standard highway agency manual. Contractors can contribute to more efficient and effective Traffic Control Plan design because they have extensive experience in managing work zone design and operation. Agencies should capture this knowledge as part of the design process.

4.3.12 Use of Computer Modeling to Develop Traffic Control Plans

Question: When developing the Traffic Control Plan for a project, does the agency use computer modeling to assess Traffic Control Plan impacts on traffic flow characteristics such as speed, delay, and capacity for type I and II projects?

For type I and II projects, agencies should use computer models to evaluate Traffic Control Plans. Models show the impact of alternative work zone strategies on motorist delay. There are many such models, ranging in complexity from spreadsheet models to sophisticated computer network simulation. Designers use information from these tools to create estimates of travel congestion and delay, leading to effective and efficient Traffic Control Plans.

4.4 Project Construction and Operation

A roadway construction or maintenance site can be a very complex orchestration of activities affecting the public in many ways. Approximately 13% of the NHS, totaling 20,876 miles, has a work zone on it during the peak summer work season, and approximately 24% of all nonrecurring congestion on freeways is due to work zones. A recent study by the Texas Transportation Institute revealed that from a sampling of 4 states, an average of 26% of the NHS was under contract for construction. The average project length was 3.7 miles, and the average active time (without weekends) was approximately 62% of the total contract time. There are many pieces of the project delivery process and everyone has a critical role, but what the public mostly sees and experiences is the construction end. By focusing on letting strategies, quality-based contractor selection, time-sensitive bidding, efficient operations, aggressive contract management, and good public information, we can improve the execution and public perception of transportation improvements.

4.4.1 Letting Schedules and Industry Capabilities

Question: Is the letting schedule altered or optimized to reflect the available resources and capabilities of the construction industry?

To obtain the most efficient and highest-quality product from a construction contact, you need quality materials and trained personnel. In any given part of the country, there are a limited number of qualified road builders and material suppliers to support road projects across the country. To obtain the best quality of labor and materials, the transportation agency should regularly evaluate the capabilities of the construction industry and material suppliers and balance those capabilities with the agency's letting schedule. Lettings should reflect the market's capability to handle the workload available. Above capacity letting strategies can contribute to unqualified workers on the job, longer work zone duration, poor materials, injuries, increased driver frustration with inactive work zones, and so on.

4.4.2 Letting Schedules and Minimizing Disruptions

Question: Is the letting schedule altered or optimized to minimize disruptions to major traffic corridors?

Effective letting schedules take into consideration the type and location of the projects being let and are organized to minimize disruption of the transportation system. The agency should assess the impacts of all ready-to-let projects on the transportation system prior to developing the letting schedule. In this assessment they should look at the type of work being done, duration of the work, traffic impacts, and adjacencies to other work in the corridor. Failure to coordinate the letting of projects could lead to multiple projects on the same corridor and on adjacent arterials, with no mitigation strategies to minimize traffic disruption and congestion.

4.4.3 Road User Costs

Question: When bidding type I and II projects, does the agency include road user costs in establishing incentives or disincentives (e.g., I/D, A+B, or lane rental) to minimize road user delay caused by work zones?

Several contracting methods can give contractors an incentive to complete work as quickly as possible. These methods often rely on road user costs as a basis to determine contract incentives or disincentives. The objective of these strategies is to reduce the contract time and minimize traveler delay. The agency should have a process to evaluate the need to apply road user costs to projects.

4.4.4 Performance Based Selection

Question: When bidding type I, II, and III projects, does the agency use performance-based selection to eliminate contractors who consistently demonstrate their inability to complete a quality job within the contract time?

Quality design and quality construction results produce a product expected to perform a certain function over a given period. Performance-based selection is the process of taking past performance and integrating it into the contractor selection process to get the best performer to accomplish the work. The agency should have a process that uses past performance to select contractors for current work.

This process should lead to fewer contract delays, thus reducing time that travelers are exposed to the work zone, and should improve the quality of the product, thus causing fewer work zones in the future.

4.4.5 Incident Management Services

Question: When bidding type I and II project contracts, does the agency use incident management services (e.g., wreckers, push vehicles, and service patrols)?

Vehicle crashes and breakdowns are a significant source of congestion and delays in and around work zones. As congestion builds and approaching work zone crash rates increase, incident management teams can help reduce the time required to clear incidents in and around work zones, reducing overall congestion and delay. The agency should have a process to evaluate the degree of incident management strategies that will be used in projects.

4.4.6 Flexible Starting Times

Question: When bidding contracts, does the agency use flexible starting provisions after the Notice to Proceed is issued?

Flexible start times are used for two primary reasons: 1) reducing the public's exposure time to construction conditions and 2) increasing the frequency of contract completion within authorized contract times. A flexible start time after the Notice to Proceed is issued encourages competition in the bidding process and enables a contractor to have more flexibility in scheduling the use of equipment and manpower. As one more tool to reduce contract time and public exposure to work zones, the agency should have a process to determine the appropriate use of this strategy.

4.4.7 Use of Uniformed Law Enforcement

Question: During type I, II, and III projects, does the agency use uniformed law enforcement?

The use of law enforcement in work zones is a widely accepted traffic management tool. Uniformed law enforcement personnel can ensure that proper speeds are maintained and that travelers more often observe posted signs, signals, and markings through a work zone. The agency should have a process to determine the necessity of uniformed law enforcement in work zones to improve driver behavior. This process should be considered early in the programming stage to ensure appropriate funding.

4.4.8 Traffic Control Device Training

Question: Does the agency provide/require training of contractor staff on the proper layout and use of traffic control devices?

Many complaints from the traveling public focus on the proper use and maintenance of traffic control devices such as cones, drums, signs, barricades, barriers, striping, and changeable message signs. Signs inform travelers of conditions that do not exist, striping is misleading and dangerous, changeable signs show the wrong message, cones and drums are improperly spaced, and so on. These inconsistencies have a tremendous impact on agency credibility with the traveling public. Drivers develop work zone habits that are based on past observations. If you want them to slow down when they see a "Work Zone Ahead" sign, make sure there is work ahead! The agency should require and provide incentives for work zone contractor personnel to be trained in the proper application and maintenance of traffic control devices in work zones.

4.4.9 Work Zone Training for Law Enforcement

Question: Does the agency provide training to uniformed law enforcement personnel on work zone devices and layouts?

Many conditions affect the work zone layout and the devices to be used. Without adequate training on how to use and place work zone traffic control devices, law enforcement personnel put themselves at risk. The agency should sponsor a training program specifically for law enforcement personnel on work zone types and traffic control devices. This training program should establish a standard placement and use of law enforcement in the work zone.

4.5 Communications and Education

To reduce public anxiety and frustration, it is important to sustain effective communications and outreach with the public regarding road construction and maintenance activity and its potential impacts. This also increases the public's awareness of such activity. Lack of information is often cited as a key cause of frustration for the traveling public; therefore, the agency should identify and consider key issues from a public outreach and information perspective.

4.5.1 Web Site

Question: Does the agency maintain and update a work zone Web site providing timely and relevant traveler impact information for type I, II, and III projects to allow travelers to make effective travel plans?

Agencies should establish a Web site to provide timely and accurate information to travelers regarding potential work zone impacts. Web sites can include information on routes currently under construction and those with work planned in the near future. Details can include locations of work zones, schedules for completing work, alternate route information, and the magnitude of impacts to traffic. Information on work zone Web sites should be updated with current delay estimates as often as changes occur. Specifically, Web sites should include the dates of expected work, specific hours of work, exact location of the work, and quantitative estimates of traffic impacts, such as miles of expected backup and expected delay.

4.5.2 Sponsor Work Zone Awareness Initiatives

Question: Does the agency sponsor National Work Zone Awareness week?

Agencies should sponsor activities associated with National Work Zone Awareness Week. The sponsorship of national and state work zone awareness initiatives provides a focal point for work zone policymaking and implementation. Sponsoring these events requires an agency to focus on important planning and development activities. It helps the agency develop a message about work zones and provides the public with the information required to appreciate the strategies under way to mitigate congestion and reduce crashes.

To heighten motorist and worker awareness of the safety and mobility issues in work zones, FHWA has, since 2000, collaborated with the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) and the American Traffic Safety Services Association (ATSSA) to sponsor National Work Zone Awareness Week during the second week in April each year.

4.5.3 Leadership in Educational Efforts

Question: Does the agency assume a proactive role in work zone educational efforts?

Significant reductions in work zone crashes and delays cannot be achieved without the highway community becoming actively involved in developing and presenting educational programs. Programs should include information on work zone safety, the meaning of traffic control devices, the reason why work is necessary, and what the agency is doing to reduce work zone impacts.

An important part of public information campaigns is the development and distribution of materials. Fliers, brochures, and other educational materials can help motorists become more aware of and knowledgeable about work zones.

The media provide an avenue to efficiently disseminate information. Media partnerships are an important part of the public information process, and meetings with media representatives can effectively inform the public about work zones. News reports on work zone lane closures, as an example, can assist the public and allow them to make better route decisions.

4.5.4 Traffic and Traveler Information

Question: During type I, II, and III project construction, does the agency use a public information plan that provides specific and timely project information to the traveling public through a variety of outreach techniques (e.g., agency Web site, newsletters, public meetings, radio, and other media outlets)?

A public information plan is the result of a deliberate process to consider what information the public needs to better cope with project issues. Providing specific and timely project information to travelers helps roadway users avoid prolonged delays at work zones and improves the efficiency of travel through a work zone. Recent studies indicate that travelers use many sources (television, radio, newspaper, transportation agency Web sites, etc.) to determine the status of road conditions to better plan their trips. The information provided should consist of the work location, duration, estimated travel times, alternate route recommendations, maps, and other significant traveler impact items.

4.5.5 Use of ITS Traffic Management Systems

Question: During type I, II, and III projects, does the agency use ITS technologies to collect and disseminate information to motorists and agency personnel on work zone conditions?

Portable or fixed traffic management systems (e.g., portable, changeable message signs; fixed message signs; speed monitoring devices; network ITS's; ramp metering; and camera monitoring) can be used to manage traffic flow in and around a work zone. These systems can keep the traveler informed of changing road conditions and delays, allowing better travel decisions and time planning. The devices can also collect system performance information that can be used to monitor construction contract compliance, support contact incentive/disincentive decisions, and provide emergency medical services (EMS), fire, and law enforcement officials with real-time system impacts. The agency should use an appropriate level of ITS applications in each project to reduce congestion and enhance driver awareness to work zone hazards. The agency should also use ITS technologies to support the traveler and traffic management Information strategies in question 4.5.3.

4.6 Program Evaluation

Evaluation is necessary to analyze failures and identify successes. Work zone performance monitoring and reporting at a nationwide level can increase the knowledge base on work zones and help better plan, design, and implement road construction and maintenance projects.

4.6.1 Tracking Performance Measures

Question: Does the agency collect data to track work zone performance in accordance with agency-established measures? (See section 4.1.4.)

Agencies should track how well work zone strategies achieve agency goals. As mentioned previously, performance measures can be tracked to assess impacts from work zone operations. These measures include assessing delay caused by nonrecurring congestion in and around work zones and measuring safety indicators such as crash rates and fatality statistics. Tracking performance in concert with establishing specific goals and objectives provides a basis for total quality improvement. Performance measures provide the required feedback to make adjustments and evaluate strategy effectiveness.

4.6.2 Tracking Safety Performance Measures

Question: Does the agency collect data to track work zone safety performance in accordance with agency-established measures? (See section 4.1.5.)

4.6.3 Customer Surveys

Question: Does the agency conduct customer surveys to evaluate work zone traffic management practices and polices on a statewide/area-wide basis?

Agencies should conduct customer surveys to assess work zone traffic management practices. Feedback from the public is a vital component of determining whether public expectations are being met. The public can provide valuable information for improving work zone programs through customer satisfaction surveys. Assessment of performance on a statewide basis or within a specific area can provide information for updating practices and policies to meet customer needs.

4.6.4 Strategy Development

Question: Does the agency develop strategies to improve work zone performance on the basis of work zone performance data and customer surveys?

The collection of performance measures should support strategy development. Data collected and not used is of little value in developing improved programs. Work zone performance data and customer surveys can be valuable in determining field conditions for comparison with performance metrics. Strategies can be developed to update and revise performance metrics based on such data.

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