Work Zone Mobility and Safety Program

Common Institutional Issues, Tips, and Lessons Learned

The study team observed several common issues, tips, and lessons learned across agencies when deploying work zone ITS applications.


  • In several sites studied, a champion was active in selling the concept of using work zone ITS and ensuring that momentum for the deployment continued at an appropriate pace to lead to the deployment of the system.
  • Each site had the necessary leadership from a group of individuals within the agency to ensure appropriate levels of communication across different groups with the transportation agency, as well as external to the agency with groups such as law enforcement, contractors, and vendors.

The owner-agencies typically hired a vendor who in turn directly provided or procured the services of a local firm to provide hardware, communications, and on-site maintenance and support. However, in some cases, the construction contractor hired the vendor. Irrespective of the arrangement, proper communication channels should remain open between the owner-agency, the construction contractor, the design consultant (if applicable), and the vendor to ensure system success. In cases where the owner agency hires the vendor directly, the owner agency is responsible for providing the vendor with proper access to the work area.


  • Agencies should develop goals for the system based on systematic consideration of the potential impacts to traffic from the planned construction activities so that the system design is appropriate for the conditions.
  • Goals and objectives for the system should be as specific and detailed as possible (e.g. to reduce aggressive maneuvers at the work zone taper by "x" percent) to maximize benefits from appropriate system design.
  • The system concept should be designed around the detailed goals and objectives to ensure adequate mitigation of expected impacts.
  • Demand levels and capacity restrictions from construction should be studied early on to identify the potential impacts from construction and validate the need for a portable traffic management system.
  • If the agency is also implementing other countermeasures to mitigate traffic impacts (such as night work only), the agency needs to consider how much this will lessen the impact/usage of the ITS system and factor that into its decision on whether to deploy ITS for the given work zone.
  • The construction contractor should be involved to the largest extent possible in system deployment to allow for proper timing in deployment, and to ensure that the contractor understands the importance of the system and the placement of the system components. Communication is needed to help ensure that the optimal placement of the ITS components is balanced with the contractor's need for adequate and convenient workspace. The contractor also should provide information on construction activity changes, thereby letting the vendor make necessary changes to the system component locations. This may help ensure that the system is active within the appropriate time periods and locations during construction.
  • The system deployment schedule should be tied to the construction activity schedule to ensure that the system is deployed at the right time to maximize the effectiveness of the investment.
  • Adequate time should be allotted for system procurement, installation, and testing so that the deployment covers early construction impact periods.
  • Right of way use permits may be required prior to equipment installation and may take extra time to complete and should be accounted for to ensure the deployment covers the early construction impact periods.
  • All stakeholders should be involved early in system planning and throughout design to ensure roles and responsibilities are adequately communicated.
  • Educating stakeholders who may not be familiar with work zone ITS, such as the media, the public, and law enforcement, is important in ensuring the cooperation needed for system success.


  • Agencies should design work zone ITS systems with flexibility in mind since work zones are highly variable environments and system adjustments may be needed during deployment.
  • Adequate communication must occur between communications experts (ITS vendors) and traffic and construction engineers (owner-agency) to effectively plan, design, operate, and maintain the system.
  • Vendors can assist agencies with determining the best design for a deployment by gaining a solid understanding of the owner-agency's goals for alleviating impacts from the work zone.
  • The system design should include proper evaluation of detector spacing and coverage to obtain the accuracy and precision of data needed for the system, particularly if system goals include displaying real-time travel time information.
  • Agencies should consider effects on local streets from diverting traffic around the work zone to manage local impacts.

Operation and Maintenance

  • Agencies can benefit from hiring a software/system vendor who has a local partner company that supplies hardware, message boards, and can be more readily available to perform routine inspection and maintenance of the system.
  • Leasing system components from a vendor or local hardware company can save on long term maintenance and replacement costs.
  • Agency personnel should validate system detector data through various means, such as observation of field volumes compared with data archived from the same time period, as a check that the system is functioning as intended.

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