Work Zone Mobility and Safety Program
Photo collage: temporary lane closure, road marking installation, cone with mounted warning light, and drum separated work zones.
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Text from 'Making Work Zones Work Better By Linking Planning and Operations' PowerPoint Presentation

Slide 01

Making Work Zones Work Better By Linking Planning and Operations

By Steven Gayle, Chair

FHWA Working Group on Linking Planning and Operations

Slide 02

The Working Group

Steven Gayle, Chair

Public Agencies:

  • MPOs
  • State DOTs
  • Municipalities
  • Transit Authorities
  • Law Enforcement
  • FHWA and FTA


  • APTA
  • AMPO
  • ITE
  • PTI

Slide 03

The Working Group

Met three times, concluding in December 2001


  • Understand the perspective of planning agencies
  • Understand the perspective of operating agencies
  • Synthesize those perspectives
  • Assist in development of FHWA guidance
  • Transition to TRB Subcommittee

Slide 04

The Issue

How do we plan, construct, operate, and maintain a regional transportation system that meets or exceeds our customers' expectations for safe and reliable travel?

Slide 05

Working Definition

Effective management of transportation systems maximizes system performance through a coordinated and integrated decision making approach to construction, operation, preservation, and maintenance of transportation facilities, with the goal of providing safe, efficient, and reliable transportation to all users.

Slide 06

What is Planning's Role?

  • Planning integrates potentially disparate activities and directs the investment of public funds.
  • MPOs incorporate multi-jurisdictional and multi-modal thinking.

Slide 07

Barriers for Planners

  • The "project culture" mindset
  • Fragmented institutions: no one is in charge
  • Planners, decision makers lack operations vocabulary
  • MPOs don't own transportation assets
  • Planning analysis tools may not reflect operations
  • Planners already have a full plate

Slide 08

Barriers for Operators

  • Agencies have internal stovepipes which separate planning and operations.
  • Business procedures (budgeting, procurement) work against multi-agency cooperation.
  • Operators don't see the relationship of planning to their "24/7" culture.

Slide 09

Barriers for Other Agencies

  • Stakeholders not directly involved in transportation (enforcement, public safety, media) don't speak the language.
  • Law enforcement and public safety have very different performance measures.

Slide 10

Pressure to Act

  • Public is demanding greater accountability and credibility: if the "project" approach does not improve their daily travel, they expect other solutions.
  • Crisis response (Olympics, natural disasters) has demonstrated to the public that operations can work, and regions can overcome institutional fragmentation.

Slide 11

What About Work Zones?

Work zones, both short and long term, are high on the public's list of negatives. They want us to "get in, get out, stay out".

Slide 12

What is Planning's Role?

Understand the customer's perspective, and apply planning techniques to minimize disruption:

  • Asset management
  • Capital program development
  • Interjurisdictional coordination
  • Stakeholder involvement

Slide 13

What is Planning's Role? (part 1 of 2)

  • Asset Management: Life cycle implications of project choices: "You just paved this road 5 years ago. Why are doing it again?"
  • Coordination of capital programs: "Why did you pave the road last year, then close it again this year to fix the bridge?"

Slide 14

What is Planning's Role? (part 2 of 2)

  • Coordinate construction schedules within and between jurisdictions: "Why did you start construction on the detour route 6 months before the main route was reopened?"
  • Ensure participation of stakeholders: "Why didn't you tell the transit authority that you would be working on a bus route?"

Slide 15

How do we get there?

Inter-disciplinary education:

  • Planners need to learn the language of operations
  • Operations/traffic engineers need to learn the value that planning brings
  • Public safety agencies need to understand how they fit in

Slide 16

Thoughts about Linkages...

The Working Group identified tools to develop the linkage between planning and operations, including those that are:

  • Performance-based
  • Product-based
  • Structural/institutional
  • Resource-based

Slide 17

Where do we go from here?

  • Consider how TEA-3 reauthorization can facilitate the linkage
  • Disseminate good practice
  • And just start talking locally...
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