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Marketing Plan: Making Work Zones Work Better
As noted in the introduction, the HfL program and the MWZWB program developed by the Office of Operations have closely aligned goals. It is important to recognize the MWZWB program first and foremost as a philosophy to mitigate the impact of work zones upon all facets of the general public (travelers, nearby residents, and adjacent businesses), rather than simply a collection of techniques, strategies, or technologies. The focus of the MWZWB program is upon reducing impacts by reducing:
Both the highway community as a whole and the FHWA in particular have been diligent in seeking out and finding innovative solutions to highway challenges. Each Marketing Plan Making Work Zones Work Better 4 year, teams of engineers, planners, and other professionals scan the globe, looking for potential innovations for highway facilities. The Office of Operations has accumulated a large database of strategies, techniques, and technologies that address one or more of these three focus areas. In 2000, FHWA published the Work Zone Operations Best Practices Guidebook, which lists specific examples of things that can be done to mitigate work zone impacts on the public. Obviously, the list of these innovations is significant, and it continues to grow. Whereas the initial list of practices numbered slightly over 100 ideas, the FHWA website now outlines well over 150 such innovations (see ops.fhwa.dot.gov/wz/practices/best/search_results.asp). A summary of the categories of strategies, techniques, and technologies that fall under the MWZWB philosophy in this guidebook are listed below.
The Office of Operations has also been supporting the MWZWB philosophy with the organization and conduct of workshops nationwide. Since 2002, 27 such workshops have been held in 24 different states. Each workshop consists of a series of short presentations on topics identified by the state and local agencies as interesting and important to them. The agencies designing the workshop choose from one or more presentations listed under the following main topic areas:
In addition, the FHWA is supporting work zone related research and activities in the areas of traffic management, worker safety, user safety, signage, mobility/delay, performance analysis, user costs, ITS, public relations/outreach, exposure to work zones, reduction/duration, time conscious methods, corridor plans, incident response efforts, and utility work. Consequently, the list of strategies, techniques, and technologies that fall under the MWZWB philosophy umbrella continues to grow, along with attendant support and guidance materials.
The FHWA has the overall lead in improving the safety and mobility of the nation's roadway infrastructure. The agency has identified three "vital few" focus areas that have been targeted for greater attention and resources: safety, environmental stewardship, and congestion mitigation. Two of these three goals tie directly to MWZWB. One of the objectives of the vital few congestion goals is to reduce work Marketing Plan Making Work Zones Work Better 6 zone delay by ensuring that all states are engaged in aggressively anticipating and mitigating congestion induced by highway work zones, and the safety goal is to reduce the national highway fatality rate from 1.5 to 1.0 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled. The efforts of the MWZWB program will make a difference in achieving these goals.
Two efforts have been initiated recently, in an effort to address the increase in the number of work zones and the level of work zone congestion.
The first is the Work Zone Safety and Mobility Rule published by FHWA on September 9, 2004. This rule updates and renames the former regulation on "Traffic Safety in Highway and Street Work Zones" in 23 CFR 630 Subpart J. All state and local governments that receive Federal–aid highway funding are required to comply with the provisions of the rule no later than October 12, 2007. A copy of the rule is included as Appendix A.
For states to be in substantial compliance with the new rule, they are required to:
While guidance has been developed and support is being provided to help state highway agencies comply with the rule, many agencies will likely need assistance in implementing some provisions of the rule.
A second development is the Highways for LIFE program, created by the 2005 Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA–LU). HfL was created to address the problem of a national highway system that is well beyond its design life. Bringing the system up to an appropriate level of quality using current construction methods would require an enormous capital investment. And even if such a sum were available, the congestion such a massive construction program would cause, again in terms of current methods, could cripple mobility. The HfL approach says that, just as innovations in such industries as consumer electronics and automobiles have resulted in lower cost, better quality, and higher value, one should be able to apply the concept of innovation implementation in the highway construction field—including managing highway construction projects to minimize congestion. This program is designed to rapidly implement innovative ideas that build projects faster, better, and safer into state DOT day–to–day practice. Key elements of the HfL program include the following:
An important aspect of the HfL approach is the need to focus on the highway user. As identified in the previous section, improved community involvement and public relations efforts are important innovations within the MWZWB initiative as well. Establishing and maintaining good communications with all affected audiences before and during construction and maintenance activities has long been acknowledged as highly effective in helping to mitigate the impacts of these activities on the public.
It is important to understand that coming up with innovations has never been the problem; the challenge has been the process of integrating innovations into day–today practice in a reasonable amount of time. Regrettably, the process often takes decades. This is unacceptable and accomplishes next to nothing toward the improvement of the users' driving experience.
Feedback received from state DOTs during a national review on "Meeting the Customer's Needs for Mobility and Safety During Construction and Maintenance Operations" indicated the following when it comes to technology transfer:
Based on this feedback, and with input from selected FHWA work zone practitioners1, the following elements are being advanced as key components for making work zones work better:
These components, which will be described in more detail in the following section, will allow the FHWA to assist state DOTs in becoming more proactive and effective in adopting more effective ways and technologies in making work zones work better.
Presently, the ability of FHWA (and the state and local agencies themselves) to estimate how well work zones are "working" is limited to data being obtained through a Work Zone Self–Assessment process that the Office of Operations initiated in 2003. The self–assessment has occurred annually since then, with the results through the 2006 assessment available from the FHWA Office of Operations website (ops.fhwa.dot.gov/wz/decision_support/self–assess.htm). The goals of the self assessment process are:
The self–assessment focuses attention on six main emphasis areas where high leverage opportunities exist to minimize work zone impacts upon the public:
1 February 22, 2006, MWZWB/HfL meeting at Turner–Fairbank Highway Research Center, with following participants: Ken Opiela, Deborah Curtis, Chris Newman, Guan Xu, Daniel Grate, Joe Geigle, Mike Davies, Martha Kapitanov, Gus Shanine, Tracy Scriba, Kathleen Bergeron, Chung Eng.
Under each emphasis area, the Office of Operations staff has identified a series of questions to assess specific topics or activities that agencies could be doing to minimize work zone impacts. A total of 46 such questions were ultimately identified, examples of which include the following:
A full list of the questions under each emphasis area is presented in Appendix B. For each question posed, the state was asked to rate its own degree of adoption of that topic. A qualitative rating scale was used, as shown in Table 1. The scoring range allowed in each adoption phase allows the agency to assess whether it is currently giving minimal, moderate, or extensive effort to this topic.
Table 1. Work Zone Self–Assessment Scoring Criteria
Figure 1 illustrates the mean scores for topic questions in each of the six emphasis areas over the 4–year history of the self assessment. Overall, the data indicate gradual increases in adoption of the topics measured in the assessment. On average, state agencies are in the execution phase of adoption in most of the emphasis areas. Program evaluation is lagging slightly, whereas communications and education efforts are believed to have evolved to the assessment phase. Adoption Phase Scoring Range Description Initiation (0–3) Agency has acknowledged a need for this item and supports further development of the requirements of this item Development (4–6) Agency has developed a plan or approach to address requirements of this item Execution (7–9) Agency has executed an approach to meet requirements of this item Assessment (10–12) Agency has assessed the performance of this item Integration (13–15) Agency has integrated the requirements of this item into agency culture and practices Marketing Plan Making Work Zones Work Better 10 Tabular scorings of the 46 individual topic questions over this same time period are provided in Appendix B.
Overall, the self–assessment is a good first step in measuring state highway agency efforts to mitigate the impacts of work zones upon the public. The data suggest that agencies are recognizing the need and implementing processes and techniques for improving work zone safety and mobility in all phases of agency operations and the project development process. Although data from individual states are not made available publicly (and are not likely to be made so in the foreseeable future), it is possible for agencies to critique themselves against these overall trends and identify additional opportunities for improvement.
Figure 1. Yearly Mean Scores by Emphasis Area.
At a national level, the information from the self–assessment scores is encouraging. Of course, these are only averages based on state DOT perceptions (quite possibly only the perceptions of one or two individuals in those agencies) of their own performance. Undoubtedly, the quality and quantity of information available will improve as states begin a more regular program of process reviews, as required by the new work zone safety and mobility rule. However, in the interim, the information provided via these assessment, coupled with other available congestion and safety data, has allowed the Office of Operations to identify an initial list of states to "target" with this initiative. The selected states possess three distinct characteristics:
Table 2 lists a dozen states to be targeted initially and the statistics supporting the emphasis to be placed on those states. The initial six (New Mexico, Kentucky, Arizona, Alabama, Louisiana, and Pennsylvania) have the lower average self assessment scores that imply greater opportunities for improvement. The second six (Massachusetts, Georgia, Arkansas, North Carolina, Missouri, and Nevada) have self–assessment scores that suggest they are in the early execution phase of practicing the MWZWB philosophy.
Table 2. Performance Statistics for Initial Target States.
Certainly, it will be possible for additional states to obtain the assistance being offered under the initiatives of this program. However, the targeted states are where initial outreach efforts will be focused. As additional information from state DOT process reviews begins to be developed, it is expected that additional "opportunity states" will be identified.
This page last modified on 01/30/13