The National Academies

NCHRP Synthesis 20-05/Topic 49-04 [Final (Synthesis)]

Very Short Duration Work Zone Safety for Maintenance and other Activities
[ NCHRP 20-05 (Synthesis of Information Related to Highway Practices) ]

  Project Data
Funds: $45,000
Authorization to Begin Work: 6/2/2017 -- estimated
Staff Responsibility: Mariela Garcia-Colberg
Research Agency: TTI
Principal Investigator: LuAnn Theiss
Effective Date: 10/3/2017
Completion Date: 6/6/2019
Fiscal Year: 2017

Final Scope

Very short duration work zone (VSDWZ) activities are those activities not defined in the MUTCD under short duration work zone or temporary traffic control (TTC) zones. These activities are usually 1-20 minutes long and include maintenance activities (such as temporary patching, picking up debris or placing traffic count tubes) where TTC is not set up. VSDWZ reduce the exposure of workers and the inconvenience to traffic that standard TTC would create.

At present, the policies and practices in place between various agencies for VSDWZ activities vary substantially. The work-zone setup also varies by the type of maintenance or other very short duration activity and roadway classification (speed, AADT, number of lanes). Historically, during those activities, a large number of worker fatalities have occurred.

The objective of the proposed study is to synthesize the current state of practice on the selection and set-up of VSDWZ where the traffic control set up may take longer than the actual maintenance or very short duration activities. The state of practice review should identify factors that avoid work-zone injuries and fatalities.

The synthesis will seek to identify current practices and lessons learned in the following areas (note this is not an all-inclusive list):
• Road or roadside activities considered very short duration
• Thresholds for use of VSDWZ
• Current practices at different agencies for very short duration road or roadside activities to minimize workers’ exposure
• Innovative practices or new emerging technologies being used for these activities to reduce exposure
• Innovative practices or new emerging technologies being used for increasing visibility and safety while conducting the activity
• Current agency’s experience with use of different type of equipment, signage and set-ups
• Current review of work-zone set up practices by agencies for conducting very short duration maintenance activities.
• Practices that have been changed due to crash, injury and/or fatalities
• Training
• OSHA considerations ( general duty clause)

Information (including from International sources) will be gathered by literature review, a survey of state DOTs, selected local agencies and Canadian Provinces and a short survey of contractors. Five case examples that highlight current effective practices and lessons learned will also be included in the synthesis.

Information Sources:
• Heaslip, K., Kondyli, A., Arguea, D., Elefteriadou, L., & Sullivan, F. (2009). Estimation of Freeway Work Zone Capacity Through Simulation and Field Data. Transportation Research Board , 2130, 16-24.
• Kim, T., Lovell D., and Pracha. J., (2000) “A new Methodology to Estimate Capacity for Freeway Work Zones”. Submitted to the 2001 Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting, Washington D.C., January 2001. Paper No. 01-0566
• Krammes, R. A. and Lopez G. O., (1994) “Updated Capacity Values for Short-Term Freeway Work Zone Lane Closures”. Transportation Research Record 1442, TRB, Transportation Board of the National Academies, 49-56
• MTO. (2001). Temporary Conditions, Ontario Traffic Manual Book 7. Ministry of Transportation of Ontario.
• Sarasua, W., Davis, W., Chowdhury, M., & Ogle, J. (2006). Estimating Interstate Highway Capacity for Short-Term Work Zone Lane Closures: Development of Methodology. Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board , 1948, 45-57.
• Sarasua, W., Davis, W., Clarke, D., Kottapally, J., & Mulukutla, P. (2004). Evaluation of Interstate Highway Capacity for Short Term Work Zone Lane Closures. Transportation Reseaarch Record 1887 , 85-94.
• Tighe, S, and McCabe, B. (2006) “Evaluation of Work Zone Strategies” Report Number ESB-001, prepared for the Ministry of Transportation Ontario, Highway Infrastructure Innovation Funding Program

TRB Staff
Mariela Garcia-Colberg
Phone: 202-334-2361
Email: mgarciacolberg@nas.edu

Meeting Dates
First Panel: October 3, 2017, Washington, DC
Teleconference with Consultant: October 11, 2017, 11:00 a.m., EST
Second Panel: June 28, 2017, Irvine, CA

Panel Members
Anita K. Bush, Nevada DOT
Yong Kwon Cho, Georgia Institute of Technology
Brad Darr, North Dakota DOT
Sheila M. Johnson, Minnesota Department of Transportation
David Rush, Virginia Department of Transportation
Craig Ruyle, NYSDOT Region 10
Tony Tavares, California Department of Transportation
Morgan Kessler, Federal Highway Administration
Jawad Paracha, Federal Highway Administration
James W. Bryant, Jr., Transportation Research Board 


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