Work Zone Mobility and Safety Program
Photo collage: temporary lane closure, road marking installation, cone with mounted warning light, and drum separated work zones.
Office of Operations 21st Century Operations Using 21st Century Technologies

Work Zone Communications and Outreach Workshop

Slide 01: Focus State Initiative

Work Zone Communications and Outreach Workshop

April 19-20, 2005

Regina McElroy and Roemer Alfelor
Office of Transportation Operations
Federal Highway Administration

Speaker Notes:

Roemer: Good morning and welcome to the first day of this 1½ day workshop on Workzone Communications and Outreach. To get us started I would like to introduce Regina McElroy, Director of Transportation Operations at FHWA, who will give the opening remarks.

Regina: Good morning and welcome (ad lib).

Before anything else I would like to thank you all for agreeing to participate and/or give a presentation in this workshop.  We appreciate your willingness and interest to attend this workshop considering the short notice that were given to you.

I would also like to thank our contractor SAIC for providing this wonderful facility.

I'm sure you will find your time and effort well spent in coming to this workshop because of the importance of communications and outreach in the work that you do for your agency. And that is what you are here to share, discuss and learn about in the next 1.5 days.

But before you do that I would like to give you some background information about the Focus State Initiative Program at FHWA and how this workshop fits within that overall agency effort.

Slide 02: What are Focus State Initiatives?

  • Resulted from the FHWA 2004 Spring Business Meeting
  • Proposed by Division Administrators
  • Major Focus Areas:
    • Safety
    • Mobility and Productivity: Congestion
    • Mobility and Productivity: Infrastructure
    • Global Connectivity
    • Environment
    • National Homeland Security
    • Organizational Excellence

Speaker Notes:

The Focus State Initiative Program was initiated last year during the FHWA Spring Business Meeting. This meeting is an annual convention of FHWA leadership staff from the headquarters and field offices, including the Division Administrators for all States.

The idea of Focus State Initiative came from the DA's who felt the need to target or highlight specific performance areas in a number of States. The major focus areas that are being targeted with the Focus State Initiative are:

  • Safety
  • Congestion
  • Infrastructure
  • Global Connectivity
  • Environment
  • Security
  • Organizational Excellence

Slide 03: Why Focus State Initiative?

  • Tipping point
  • Lead States
  • Focused Efforts

Speaker Notes:

The FHWA Leadership saw several advantages to undertaking the Focus State Initiatives, including:

  1. Serving as excellent sources of innovative ideas and methods that can be shared across the country
  2. Having Lead States serve as pilot States and provide examples for other agencies to follow
  3. Focusing efforts and resources on activities that will result in significant benefits to the agency at relatively low cost

Slide 04: Work Zone Focus State Initiative

  • Focus Area: Communications and Outreach
  • Goal: Making Work Zones Work Better
  • WZ Mobility and Safety Program Elements:
    • Decision Making Framework (e.g. "The Rule")
    • Tool Box
    • Training/Technical Assistance
    • Outreach

Speaker Notes:

A focus state initiative on Work Zone Communications and Outreach was started in FHWA to support the overall agency goal of Making Work Zones Work Better. This initiative addresses primarily two of the major FHWA focus areas I described earlier – namely Safety and Congestion.

This initiative is being championed by the WZ Mobility and Safety Program in my office. The key elements and activities of this program are:

  1. Establishing a decision-making framework that will assist transportation agencies in defining work zone programs that result in improved safety and mobility
  2. Equipping a tool box with the appropriate tools of the trade
  3. Providing training and technical assistance in devising and implementing the decision-making framework and applying the tools, and
  4. Conducting outreach – getting the word out as to what's possible

Slide 05: Why WZ Communication/Outreach?

  • Supports the WZ decision-making framework
  • Identified in WZ Self-Assessment
  • Opportunity exists – "Low hanging fruit"
  • High improvement at low cost
  • Strategies deployable in short time

Speaker Notes:

Why are we undertaking a Focus State Initiative on WZ Communications and Outreach?

Well, first of all, communications and outreach support all three elements of the decision-making framework I just described.

The Focus State approach is ideal for this WZ program element because it maximizes the use of limited resources by targeting opportunities for improvement identified in the WZ self-assessment, which Tracy will talk about this morning.

Focusing on communication strategies can be considered a "low hanging fruit" where the improvements may be greatest for advancing the state-of-the-practice, at relatively low cost.

In addition, specific outreach and communication strategies can be identified and deployed over a short period of time. 

Slide 06: WZ Focus State Initiative Process

  • Get commitment from Division Administrators
  • Identify State participants
  • Conduct Initiative (e.g. Workshop)
  • Obtain good ideas
  • Develop action plan
  • Provide technical assistance

Speaker Notes:

For this WZ Focus State Initiative, the following steps are being followed:

  • Get commitment from Division Administrators
  • Identify State participants
  • Conduct Initiative (e.g. Workshop)
  • Obtain good ideas
  • Develop action plan
  • Provide technical assistance

Let me now turn it over to Roemer who will lead the rest of activities for this workshop. Again, I appreciate your attendance and look forward to a successful meeting.

Slide 07: Goals of the Workshop

  • Overall: Raise awareness and advance state of the practice
  • Present existing strategies for communications and outreach
  • Identify barriers to effective communications
  • Outcome: Develop outreach strategy and action plan
  • Post-workshop: State and FHWA to work together to implement plan.

Speaker Notes:

Roemer:  Thank you Regina for the general overview. Let me continue with specific items pertaining to this workshop.

The overall goal of the workshop is to raise the level of awareness and advance the state of the practice in work zone communications and outreach.

We intend to accomplish this goal by listening to a number of presentations on the various strategies and tools being used in many parts of the country.

You will also have the opportunity to share and discuss with the other participants the types of barriers you have experienced in the past, or those you anticipate to address in an upcoming construction project in your State.

Towards the end of this workshop you will be asked to come up with an outreach strategy and a set of action items for implementing this strategy on a particular construction project in your State. By presenting your strategy and action plan to the group you will be able to hear what others have to say so you will be better prepared when you present this strategy to your agency.

After the workshop it is FHWA's intent to work with each State in implementing any or all of the action items you have identified subject to the availability of resources.

Slide 08: Role of Communications/Outreach

  • Provide information to the public so they can make travel decisions
  • Promote safety and reduce congestion/delay in work zones
  • Decrease public dissatisfaction with work zones
  • Help make work zones work better!

Speaker Notes:

You probably already know how important public communications and outreach are to a highway agency  when you have to do roadwork, especially when the impacts are significant.

An effective strategy will help the agency give the right information to the public at the right time pertaining to the work zone so they can make appropriate travel decisions.

Good communications and outreach help create a workzone environment that is safe for both the workers and the motorists, as well as reduce the delay normally associated with workzones.

In addition, by helping motorists prepare for and respond to the presence of work zones, the general public dissatisfaction for these types of 'normal' traffic flow interruptions can be decreased.

In short, an effective communications and outreach strategy is essential to making work zones work better.

Slide 09: Relevance to Final Rule

  • Policy-Driven Focus
  • Systems level approach
    • Planning
    • Design
    • Implementation
    • Performance Assessment
  • Transportation management strategies
    • Transportation Management Plans
    • Traffic Control Plan
    • Public Information and Outreach Plan
  • Partner-Driven Approach
  • Flexible, Scalable and Adaptable

Speaker Notes:

I'd like to talk a little bit about the rule on WZ mobility and safety and how it addresses the need for communications and outreach.

In broad terms, the legislation prescribes a different way for agencies to handle workzones in that:

  1. There needs to be an agency-wide policy on WZ to institutionalize the procedures within the agency at the overall program level and identify specific processes at the project level.
  2. Agencies need to adopt a comprehensive systems level approach in WZ management that includes all stages of project planning, design, implementation and assessment.
  3. The rule calls for the development and implementation of a variety of transportation management strategies for dealing with work zones, including the creation of transportation management plans, traffic control plans, and public information and outreach plan. This latter strategy is the focus of this workshop.
  4. The rule also prescribes a partner-driven approach to WZ management that involves both the FHWA and the highway agency.
  5. Finally, the rule allows for flexibility, scalability and adaptability of the provisions identified so they can be customized to the specific needs of the individual agencies.

Slide 10: Workshop Agenda

  • Presentation: WZ Self-Assessment
  • Group Discussion: Barriers to Communications
  • Presentations: Existing Practices
  • Breakout Session: Overcoming Barriers
  • Breakout Session: Develop Strategy and Action Plan
  • Presentations: State Strategy and Action Plan

Speaker Notes:

Let me quickly review the workshop agenda with you. I hope you all have copies of the agenda.

First, Tracy will give a presentation on the WZ self-assessment which I'm sure all of you are familiar with. Tracy will highlight the communications and outreach element of the Self-Assessment.

Then we will have a group discussion where you will be asked to identify the different barriers to communication associated with work zones. April Armstrong will be facilitating this discussion.

After that we will hear a number of presentations about different strategies and tools that are being used for outreach. Some of these presenters will relate their experiences and lessons learned including the barriers they had to overcome. There will be 4 presentations, one will be made after lunch.

After the last presentation, we will break into two groups (we will let you know who goes to which group this afternoon). Each group will discuss the strategies that can be used to overcome the barriers identified in the morning discussion.

Then before we adjourn for the day you will begin to develop a strategy and action plan for a specific upcoming project in your State. There will still be 2 breakout groups but within each Group the State DOT participant and FHWA Division Office rep will work together to develop the plan.

Tomorrow morning you will continue to work on your plan, and then you will have the chance to present your plan to the whole group.

We will try to get you out of here by 11:35 tomorrow.

Slide 11: Logistics

  • Lunch
  • Breaks
  • Rest Rooms
  • Phone/E-mail
  • Hotel
  • Others

Slide 12: Introduction

  • Name, Agency and Title
  • General expectations from the workshop
  • State DOT: Description of Specific Upcoming Construction Project and Need for Outreach Strategy
Office of Operations