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The National Academies

NCHRP Synthesis 20-05/Topic 52-11 [Active (Synthesis)]

Use of Smart Work Zone Technologies for Improving Work Zone Safety
[ NCHRP 20-05 (Synthesis of Information Related to Highway Practices) ]

  Project Data
Funds: $45,000
Authorization to Begin Work: 5/1/2020 -- estimated
Staff Responsibility: Jo Allen Gause
Research Agency: University of Missouri
Principal Investigator: Henry Brown
Effective Date: 9/24/2020
Fiscal Year: 2021

Final Scope


Over the last two decades, state departments of transportation (DOTs) across the nation have been incorporating smart work zone technologies to improve their ability to manage work zones more effectively and to improve safety in work zones. Smart work zone technologies have been used in a variety of ways to reduce the impact of work zone traffic movement through queue management and route diversion as well as to improve safety. In recent years DOTs have been deploying a variety of dynamic smart technologies to improve the safety of workers within the work zone as well as drivers within and upstream of work zone activity.

Examples of dynamic smart work zone technologies include lane merge systems to control vehicles merging in advance of lane closures; speed management systems within and in advance of work zones; use of portable changeable message signs for warning and speed reduction alerts; early notifications of work zone activity, and warning systems of construction equipment in the roadway.

The objective of this synthesis is to document the use and effectiveness of smart work zone technologies used by state DOTs for the purpose of improving the safety of workers and drivers affected by work zone activity.
Information to be gathered includes (but is not limited to) use of:
• Dynamic warning systems to provide accurate notifications to drivers and workers (e.g., queue warning, travel time through the work zone, dynamic lane merge, work zone intrusion alarm, truck entering systems);
• Variable speed limit systems to reduce vehicular speed differential in advance of and within a work zone (e.g., radar speed feedback signs);
• Smart technologies integrated with crowdsourcing systems to provide data for dynamic warning systems;
• Work zone location technologies;
• Performance measures used to determine the effectiveness of work zone technologies (e.g., metrics, crash reduction, delay reduction);
• Measures of return on work zone technology investment used by DOTs; and
• Data transmission issues regarding availability of cellular service and bandwidth for deploying smart work zone technologies.

Information will be collected through literature review, a survey of DOTs, and follow-up interviews with selected agencies for the development of case examples. Information gaps and suggestions for research to address those gaps will be identified.

Information Sources (Partial):
• Jawad Paracha and Rachel Ostroff (ICF). FHWA Research and Technology; Coordinating, Developing, and Delivering Highway Transportation Innovations, FHWA-HRT-18-004, Summer 2018: Improving Safety and Mobility: ITS in Work Zones
• FHWA. Every Day Counts (EDC-3), May 2017: Smarter Work Zones.
• Gerald Ullman (TTI) and Jeremy Schroeder (Battelle). FHWA Office of Operations, FHWA – HOP- 14, January 2014: Mitigating Work Zone Safety and Mobility Challenges Through Intelligent Transportation Systems.
• Dr. Denny R. Stephens, Vital Assurance; Dr. Jeremy Schroeder, Athey Creek; and Ms. Rachel Ostroff (ICF). FHWA January 2019: A Framework for Work Zone Activity Data Collection and Management (Version 3).
• Xuanwen Wang, PhD, Rebbeca Katz, MPH, and Xiuwen Sue Dong, DrPH. CPWR Quarterly Report Data Report, Second Quarter 2018: Fatal Injuries at Road Construction Sites Among Construction Workers.

TRB Staff
Jo Allen Gause
Phone: 202-334-3826
Email: jagause@nas.edu

Meeting Dates
First Panel: September 24, 2020, Washington, DC
Teleconference with Consultant: October 22, 2020, 1 p.m,, Eastern 
Second Panel: June 2, 2021, Washington, DC

Topic Panel

Rajaram Bhagavathula, Virginia Polytechnic and State University

Michelle Boucher, IBI Group
Theresa Drum, California Department of Transportation
Daniel Sprengeler, Iowa Department of Transportation
Joyce Taylor, Maine Department of Transportation
Kenneth Thornewell, North Carolina Department of Transportation
Hua Xiang, Maryland Department of Transportation
Jawad Paracha, Federal Highway Administration
James Bryant, Transportation Research Board
Jo Allen Gause, Transportation Research Board

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