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

Some Findings on Public Outreach for Work Zones

Slide 01: Some Findings on Public Outreach for Work Zones

poster stating: I-65 closed for repairs southbound September 15-18; I-65 will be closed from Watterson Expressway to Spaghetti Junction

fluorescent pink signs stating: Tune to AM 1610 for current construction information, and Project Hotline, 1-866-879-0395

Slide 02: Outline

  • Results of WZ SA
  • Value (Bang for the buck)
  • Possibilities/Successes

Slide 03: 2004 WZ Self Assessment Results

self assessment results graph

Image Details

Slide 04: 2004 WZ Self Assessment Results

self assessment section 5 results graph

Image Details

Slide 05: 2004 WZ Self Assessment Results

  • All agencies reported use of a public information plan during type I, II, and III projects to provide specific, timely project info
  • Public info plans use a variety of dissemination techniques
  • Websites are widely used resource for disseminating traveler information on WZs – 87% of agencies
  • ITS used to collect and disseminate WZ info: avg score was 8.1, with 67% of agencies indicating use during type I, II, and III projects

Slide 06: 2004 WZ Self Assessment Results

  • Strategies mentioned as being used – outreach
    • Website with work zone info
    • 511
    • Telephone hotline
    • Use of media – radio, TV, and newspapers
    • News releases/media alerts
    • Work with other agencies/companies that distribute traveler info
    • Use of a Fax network to distribute road/lane/ramp closure info (not in real-time)
    • Highway Advisory Radio
    • Use of DMS/PCMS
    • Use of WZ ITS
    • Cameras to collect, disseminate info on WZ conditions to motorists and agency personnel
    • Installation of permanent ITS, with use during work zones
    • Establish info center to inform the public about the project, it's effects, who to contact with questions
    • Hold open house meetings when WZ changes
    • Mail out newsletters to neighborhood groups when project phase/staging changes WZTC

Slide 07: 2004 WZ Self Assessment Results

  • Strategies mentioned – coordination/education
    • Active participant in WZ Awareness Week
    • Committee working to develop/distribute WZ educational material
    • Hold an annual WZ safety awareness conference
    • Work with LTAP to offer educational programs – CDs, conferences, meetings
    • Coordination with DMV on WZ education
    • Hold train the trainer sessions (e.g., for police officers on basic WZ safety)
    • Work with local gov't, businesses to minimize impacts to traffic and businesses
    • Hold meetings pre-construction to inform the public about construction
    • Project meetings with contractors
    • Work with the Governor's Safety Council
    • Public service ad campaigns
    • Partner with associations such as AGC to educate on WZ safety
    • Speak at high schools and other training functions

Slide 08: 2004 WZ Self Assessment Results


  • "Through research efforts, [our state DOT] has learned that providing timely information is important to the public and this activity is integrated into DOT public information efforts."
  • [We] have come a long way in this area. In one year [we] increased the number of our media spots ten-fold.

Slide 09: 2004 WZ Self Assessment Results

  • Website content (daily road/lane/ramp closings, planned closings, commuter info, congestion maps)
  • Website updates
    • Range from daily for construction and hourly when maintenance conditions require, to weekly, to infrequently
    • Centrally done in some states, in another construction crews statewide can update the website to keep information timely, other states do it through regional/district offices
  • Websites: some project-specific, some statewide
  • Make website commuter oriented
  • WZ info gathering and dissemination incorporated in regional ITS initiatives
  • Some assessment of services (511, website) now taking place
  • Public info plan done on a region-wide basis vs project basis

Slide 10: 2004 WZ Self Assessment Results

  • Challenges
    • Have a website but it is not easy to find/get to
    • Website needs to be updated on a more regular basis
    • Highway Dept has a website but it does not contain WZ info
    • Reaching out of state travelers (how?)
    • ITS use is limited and is decided on a project-by-project basis – no statewide criteria to guide us

Slide 11: Value

  • Caltrans TMP Effectiveness Study/Presentation

Slide 12: Caltrans TMP Effectiveness Study

  • 6 TMP Strategies Examined
    • Public Information
    • Motorist Information
    • Incident Management
    • Construction Strategies
    • Demand Management
    • Alternate Routes

Slide 13: But Which Strategies Led to These Great Results?

  • Telephone hotline
  • Use of media
  • Quickchange moveable barrier
  • Signage

Speaker Notes:

Quickchange Moveable Barrier

Slide 14: Most Effective Strategies – Public Awareness

The media announce "If you drive I-80, you might want to consider an alternate route this morning"

"Which way should we go today?"

  • Use HOV, Bus or Rail
  • Telecommute
  • Leave Earlier or Later

Slide 15: Slogans and Maps are Good and Easy to Remember

  • Instead of Saying "Bridge Replacement Project"
    • Improve Your Drive on the Five!
    • Making the City Safer

Slide 16: Lessons Learned

  • Public Awareness
    • Newspapers
    • TV News Spots
    • Most Effective Strategies facilitate Decision-Making by Driving Public to avoid WZ
  • Advance Signage
    • Before Decision Points
    • On Preceding Weeks/Weekends
  • Cost vs. Benefit ("Bang for the Buck")
    • $$$ on Brochures, Ads, Flyers, Etc. vs. Benefit??
    • (Media Coverage – no cost for Major Projects)
  • Adhere to Lane Req'mt Charts
    • Construction Strategies are also very effective
  • Keep Lanes Open
    • Narrow Lane Widths
    • Shoulder Usage during Peak

Speaker Notes:

Public Awareness –

  • Local papers etc. to hit specific group
  • Businesses – flyers to hit large group

Keep lanes open – vs. accident rates??

Slide 17: Lessons Learned

"Based on our experience, public information is the TMP mitigation strategy that gives us the 'biggest bang for the buck – its effectiveness is greater in urban areas, but still holds true in rural areas."
– Robert Copp, Caltrans

Speaker Notes:

Public Awareness –

  • Local papers etc. to hit specific group
  • Businesses – flyers to hit large group

Keep lanes open – vs. accident rates??

Slide 18: Successes – Full Closures

  • Study looked at 6 sites using full road closures to reduce project duration/expedite completion
  • Each project used extensive public outreach
  • All projects reported positive public sentiment, 2 projects received no complaints
  • All sites noted reduced impacts to travelers, less congestion on alternate routes than expected

photo of overhead highway sign for Interstate 670 west with a Closed banner across the street name

Slide 19: Successes – Full Closures

  • Full Closure of I-95 near Wilmington, DE (7 months)
    • Emphasis on Public Outreach: Ads in local newspapers, outreach events, public meetings, a "Survival Guide," creation of a colorful character known as the traffic "creep," radio, Expresso bus routes
    • The morning the full closure started, media were on hand to witness the congestion they expected would ensue. Questioning whether they were in the right place, the media were confused by the lack of congestion.

Speaker Notes:

Traffic creep character used to encourage travelers to "beat the creep" by taking alternates and using carpool and transit.

Expresso bus routes – express buses downtown. Coupons for free coffee given to riders to encourage use.

Slide 20: The Public as Partner

The public can be a valuable partner in helping agencies operate work zones effectively.

  • Through public information, we can make the public a partner in our efforts to reduce WZ congestion and crashes.
    • Informing the public – and commercial vehicles – about WZ conditions
    • Giving them the information to make travel decisions
    • Many people will choose to avoid the area.