STATUS: Research is complete. Final report under review.
In 2010 there were 87,606 crashes in work zones. Between 2006 and 2010, an average of 761 people died and more than 37,000 people were injured each year as a result of motor vehicle crashes in work zones. During that same period an average of 114 highway construction workers died and more than 20,000 workers were injured in road construction work zones each year (FHWA’s Work Zone Safety and Mobility Program). Construction work zones on freeways are estimated to account for nearly 24% of non-recurring delay. In order to reduce these crashes and delays, and their resulting negative effects on lives and the economy, a better understanding of the effectiveness of work zone transportation management strategies is needed. A better understanding of the effectiveness of different strategies will enable designers to develop project designs, traffic control plans, and transportation management plans (TMPs) that will (a) allow for the safe, effective, and economical maintenance of traffic through work zones; and (b) reduce or eliminate negative consequences to regional mobility and the economy. A TMP consists of a set of coordinated strategies that are implemented to manage the work zone impacts of a road construction project without unreasonably compromising project constructability. TMPs outline specific strategies to be employed that will help achieve project goals associated with traffic mobility, the safety of motorists and construction workers, and other operational targets during the construction period. TMPs are used to clearly define and communicate the comprehensive plan for construction project management to internal state department of transportation (state DOT) staff, contractors, the public, and the media. Many TMP strategies have been implemented by state DOTs, but practitioners and researchers are often uncertain of their relative effectiveness. Practitioners could develop more effective and more economical TMPs if they have appropriate data on the effectiveness of TMP strategies that are available for a given project. Effectiveness information could improve practitioners’ understanding of which TMP strategies are most likely to improve work zone safety and mobility in various circumstances, and where, when, and how to implement particular strategies to maximize their effectiveness. TMP strategy information included in existing guidance documents, typically, lacks necessary detail and contains more general information such as descriptions of strategies, suggestions of situations where a strategy may be applicable, and general information on possible benefits and challenges. While this information provides basic information, it stops short of compiling and analyzing the results of existing studies or of evaluating the effectiveness of each strategy based on field experience.
The objectives of this research are to (1) review current practice in work zone transportation management plans (TMPs) and the strategies used by state departments of transportation; (2) conduct a field evaluation of selected strategies; and (3) produce a guidebook to assist work zone practitioners on selecting the most effective and cost-efficient TMP strategies to implement in a particular construction setting.