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Highways for LIFE

Arrow Marketing Plan: Making Work Zones Work Better

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Product Analysis

The intent of the MWZWB plan is two-pronged. It is designed to help state DOTs better understand the potential impacts from work zones, meet their needs as they identify ways to improve their work zone management programs, and implement innovations to best mitigate the impacts of these work zones upon the public. It is also intended to assist the DOTs in achieving compliance with the regulations and spirit of the Work Zone Safety and Mobility rule.

The unique aspect of this particular program is that market research is continuous. The MWZWB program will need to continue monitoring and identifying additional needs of the state DOTs and take action to develop solutions to fill those needs. As soon as one need is filled, more than likely, another will surface. This is where the dynamic ability of this program will shine. In essence, the P2P and focused workshop components themselves are marketing components, as their function is to provide information necessary for users to adopt new and improved procedures and technologies.

In promoting better, more effective work zones, one has to realize that there are not one or two innovations which, if employed, could serve as a panacea for all work zone challenges. As noted earlier in this plan, there are dozens of approaches and products that, when used appropriately, can make the vital difference. These can range from highly sophisticated electronic equipment used to notify drivers of real time vital road conditions, to simple modifications in construction processes or phasing of activities. Efforts to date by the Office of Operations suggest that the overall concept of making work zones work better is fairly well understood among practitioners. The publication of the Work Zone Safety and Mobility final rule has further raised the awareness of this issue. Consequently, the need is not one of marketing the overall concept, but on assisting state DOT and local personnel in their efforts to understand how the myriad processes, strategies, techniques, and technologies can be best pared down to the one or few which will provide, for a given set of local conditions, the best return on the investment in time and money..

The fact that there are so many options that could be used to make "work zones work better" is perhaps itself a significant obstacle to accomplishing the ultimate goal of adopting innovation as the normal way of doing business. Wholesale adoption of all strategies at all work zones, for example, would be tremendous overkill and likely lead to a very inefficient use of financial resources. Not all work zones require the same type or degree of treatment in order to address the critical components that drive the congestion and safety impacts that occur. However, knowing which processes/strategies/techniques/ technologies and combinations thereof are best-suited to a set of work zone conditions (and understanding the various interdependencies between strategies and those conditions) requires expertise that may be beyond the skills of the decision-making personnel of many agencies. Furthermore, even if the knowledge exists, formal processes are not in place to address work zone issues at the appropriate points in the project delivery sequence, and process owners are not identified.

Figure 2 shows the overall layout of the MWZWB marketing initiative. The P2P component will be deployed first, followed by the focused workshops and the project assessment assistance. Ongoing feedback will be used to further refine each of the component areas and the interactions between them. Details on each facet of the program are described below.

Figure 2. Organization of the MWZWB Marketing Initiative.
Peer-to-Peer (P2P) Focused Workshops
Program Level
(eg., TMPs, Policy)
Project Level
Highways for LIFE
(as appropriate)
Others
(by request)
Project Assessment Assistance

Peer-to-Peer Program

The first phase of the MWZWB program will be to implement the P2P component. This activity will be an informal and easy-to-use tool that will serve customers' needs through several communications channels. The approach will be modeled after the ITS P2P program. By tapping into the programmatic and technical expertise of transportation professionals across the country, the approach will save state DOTs time and expense in implementing new innovations.

While the P2P program will be available to assist the state DOTs with all of their work zone questions, the primary function of the program is to aid the states in implementing innovative work zone strategies and technologies that will help improve the public's driving experience and help the state DOTs comply with the Work Zone Safety and Mobility rule.

The availability of the P2P program will be marketed via the posting of details on the Work Zone Management website within the FHWA Office of Operations website, and through targeted e-mail communications from the Office of Operations to the FHWA division offices. Information about the program will also appear in boilerplate copy included in news releases about the program. There is also an opportunity to use the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Subcommittee on Operations and its Technology Implementation Group (TIG) to promote these efforts. A program brochure and business card will be developed to help facilitate program outreach and marketing.

Having a knowledgeable and well-respected group of experts available to provide technical assistance covering a wide variety of work zone related topics is the keystone of the P2P program. This group of experts will be able to assist the customer (their fellow work zone specialists) through e-mail, telephone, and as necessary, face–to–face support. Moreover, they will be accessible to review material and participate on scanning tours. The vision is that state DOTs will be able to use the panel of experts to review their documents at the policy, process, and project levels. Examples could be the particular state's Work Zone Safety and Mobility Policy or the specifications for an ITS work zone.

While the primary function of the P2P program is to provide human resources to solve identified problems, other elements may be incorporated into the program as needed. For example, both scanning tours and open houses are valuable ways to gather or disseminate information. Based on need determined from requests, the work zone self–assessments, or other pertinent information, these two approaches may be applicable to the MWZWB effort.

A scanning tour would allow a select group of individuals to visit states that have integrated innovative practices into their program. Typically, the group takes the knowledge they obtained from the tour and drafts a report to disseminate the information to interested parties. It may be ideal for representatives from states that are not as advanced to participate in the tours. Information gathered first–hand often is more valuable and likely to be used than information read in a report.

Another valuable opportunity available through the P2P program is the hosting of open houses. Open houses are events that are focused around projects that are being constructed using the set of particular technologies/strategies appropriate for the unique project circumstances. For example, if one state is using ITS in a work zone, it becomes an opportunity to bring engineers from other states to see the process as it develops. They get a chance to discuss aspects of the project with the project engineer as the work is being done. This may be an ideal fit for those interested in the work zone aspects of HfL projects.

Focused Workshops

The primary difference between the P2P program and the focused workshops is that the P2P program is to be available to individuals who proactively request assistance, whereas the intent of the focused workshops is to approach and provide assistance to states identified by the FHWA. While a focused workshop may be requested via the P2P program, the workshops will most likely be offered to states identified as having specific needs to either substantially comply with the Work Zone Safety and Mobility rule or to improve their work zone self–assessment scores.

As seen in Figure 2 above, the focused workshops are geared to offer assistance at both the program level and the project level. Project–level workshops are further subdivided into two categories, HfL projects and other projects. These workshops are not intended to be training courses. In the previous MWZWB workshops, the information presented was fairly broad, and it did not translate easily from abstract examples of past applications to the needs and potential uses by the workshop attendees. Consequently, these focused workshops are intended to allow a state DOT to tap into the expertise of multiple experts to allow collaboration and critiquing of alternatives for especially complex and challenging work zone projects and agency processes to be accomplished from various expert perspectives (something that will generally not be possible through the peer–to–peer program). Upon conclusion of the workshop, it is expected that either a solution to a problem has been identified and accepted by the state or formal recommendations have been left with the state DOT with the understanding that the state would take action on the recommendations.

In the short term, emphasis will be placed on the targeted states listed in Table 2. Input from the FHWA division offices will be an integral part of an initial program assessment to help identify the topic areas to focus upon. The division office and the target state, as appropriate, will assist in prioritizing the areas that would provide the most benefit. Also, the division office will be able to inform the MWZWB coordinators whether their partner state DOT would be receptive to one or more focused workshops. In the long term, other states may solicit assistance in conducting a workshop based on their own program assessments, FHWA division office encouragement, or other data.

The program–level workshops will likely be the most frequent type of workshops held initially. As stated above, these tailored workshops will be offered to states identified by the self–assessment scores and division offices. These workshops will be tailored to aid states in policy and process development, particularly in regards to meeting the requirements of the new work zone rule.

The other workshops would be tailored towards specific projects. Where appropriate, HfL projects will be reviewed for an opportunity to provide a workshop that would assist the state DOT in implementing an innovative feature into their work zone. Non–HfL projects would most likely be identified for a tailored workshop either through the FHWA division office or through a P2P request. The successful model of Accelerated Construction Technology Transfer (ACTT) workshops could be employed.

Project Assessment Assistance

The third component to the MWZWB program to be marketed under this plan targets the improvement in the understanding and use of tools and guidance for conducting work zone impact analyses. Such analyses are necessary to help identify significant projects, guide the selection of mitigation strategies for these projects, and provide data for the process reviews that state DOTs will be required to conduct under the Work Zone Safety and Mobility Rule. The FHWA Office of Operations has Marketing Plan Making Work Zones Work Better 16 published general guidance on performing work zone impact assessments. However, this guidance is fairly high–level in nature, and it does not provide the detailed guidance that some practitioners may need to help them:

  • Select appropriate analysis tools for their particular situation or phase of project development (one tool may be appropriate during planning while another is more appropriate during final traffic control plan development, for example)
  • Select appropriate default values or assumed values when input data for a particular tool is not available
  • Determine how to utilize the tool properly to evaluate the type of work zone situation (and alternatives) being proposed
  • Evaluate the results of the analyses generated by the tools

Consequently, the Office of Operations will initiate an effort to develop a primer, guidance on selecting work zone traffic analysis tools, and guidelines on applying these tools to perform work zone impact analysis. It is envisioned that this guidance will be consistent with guidance currently in the traffic analysis toolbox (see ops.fhwa.dot.gov/trafficanalysistools/toolbox.htm) and will ultimately be made a part of this toolbox.

Once this guidance is developed, further assistance in this area may be provided under either the P2P program or through the focused workshops. A focused workshop at the program level, for example, might examine which of the available tools would be most beneficial for the state to adopt and develop internal expertise in using. Meanwhile, a workshop at the project level might emphasize the use of a particular tool in the analysis of specific project alternatives.

Additional MWZWB Resources

In addition to the P2P, focused workshops, and project assessment assistance, supporting resources also play a role in the MWZWB program. These materials may include brochures, websites, guidance documents, Best Practices Guidebook, traffic analysis tools, and case studies. As the program matures and further market research data become available, other resources may be developed under this program. The Office of Operations will continue to support the development and dissemination of success stories and such under this program on its MWZWB website (see ops.fhwa.dot.gov/wz/about/wz_story.htm). Links to these stories and information will then be easily accessible to those interested. This information will also be available (via active links) to visitors to the National Work Zone Safety Information Clearinghouse (workzonesafety.org).

Additional HFL Resources

To provide the best return–on–investment to the HfL program, it is recommended that an integrated communications approach be developed to extend across the MWZWB, PBES, and RSA initiatives. It could act as a unifying strategy to instigate change, raise awareness, and measure results for the program as a whole, as well Marketing Plan Making Work Zones Work Better 17 as for the three component initiatives. This campaign should be two–pronged, deploying a series of templated news releases on developments under the three programs. Links should be made to the MWZWB website where resources on improving work zones are already available. News releases to publicize an innovation being introduced on a project, a life saved because of an innovation in place, a quick turnaround on a project, savings realized on a project, etc. should be coordinated and housed. News releases could follow a "Swiss cheese" format, with all relevant program messaging in place; only the details of the specific triggering event would need to be added. The news releases related to MWZWB efforts could provide a link to the MWZWB website where reporters and other audiences could learn more about work zone safety issues.

Follow Up

To ensure that each of the MWZWB elements is operating effectively, a monitoring and follow–up plan will be established. The key objectives will be to 1) ensure that the DOT's needs were met and that progress has been made in improving the work zone program, and 2) using the user's feedback to develop ways to improve the overall system. Follow–up should occur no more than 3 months from the time that a resource was provided.

Goals/Measures of Effectiveness

There are several ways to measure the general effectiveness of the MWZWB effort:

  • Number of P2P requests made
    • Requested supports supplied via phone/email
    • Requested supports supplied via face–to–face
    • Number of requests able to support
  • Number of scanning tours held
  • Number of workshop requests made
  • Number of workshop requests able to support
  • Number of workshops initiated by the MWZWB coordinators
  • Number of project assessment assistance requests handled
  • MWZWB website use statistics, media hits
  • Success stories
  • Estimate of the road user costs, delays, etc. mitigated through the adoption of the MWZWB philosophy on a particular project or within a particular state DOT
  • Number of state DOTs that have put into practice formalized processes to consider and incorporate work zone innovations on projects where appropriate.

However, while it is important to measure the use of the tools within this program, it is imperative to keep in mind that "use" does not always equal "progress." The resources provided must result in a change in philosophy or produce an actual product (i.e., the adoption of a policy or the integration of an innovative technology into their program).

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Contact

Kathleen Bergeron
Highways for LIFE
202-366-5508
kathleen.bergeron@dot.gov

This page last modified on 04/04/11
 

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