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Statewide Opportunities for Integrating Operations, Safety and Multimodal Planning: A Reference Manual

Section 6 - Project-Level Opportunities

Overarching Themes

  • Bringing together multidisciplinary teams
  • Incorporating multimodal considerations into projects
  • Integrating fiscal considerations into project development
  • Incorporating operations and safety-based strategies into projects

Introduction

The project development process provides opportunities to bring together operations, safety, and planning considerations. At this level, representatives of these functions commonly interact in order to consider detailed information and take more immediate action. Often this interaction is through a handoff in responsibility as each functional area applies the level of expertise necessary to develop a transportation improvement project. True integration would greatly enhance the steps throughout the project development phase. This begins with the concept of a multidisciplinary team, which is a cornerstone of integration of operations, safety, and planning. Project planning differs greatly from long range planning; however, the long range planning considerations of system-level effects and community considerations are essential to a successful project.

At the project level, based on support for the project purpose and need, operations and safety staff often have a more established role than planning staff. The present condition of the facility identified for improvement requires an understanding of the level of service as well as the crash history. Operational improvements, such as ITS infrastructure, that are under consideration, can be identified and included in project planning. The consideration of project alternatives involves the consideration of both the short and long term benefits of the improvement.

There has been a focus for many years on linking the planning and project development phases, and a great deal of guidance has been developed to support this interest. Many of the concepts for integrating planning into the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process also apply to integrating operations and safety into planning. Multimodal considerations are specifically addressed at the project level.

Potential benefits to integrating operations, safety, and planning at the project level include:

Section Content

Integration of operations and safety into each of the previously identified levels of planning sets the stage for successful integration at the project level. This section outlines project level opportunities in two particular areas:

Section 6.1

Incorporate Operations and Safety Into Project Planning

Description In the project development process, there are several opportunities for linking planning, operations, and safety beginning with the scoping stage where operations and safety considerations can be incorporated. Operations considerations could include consideration of pricing, ramp metering, traveler information systems, and other ITS components. Safety considerations could include installing signs and pavement markings and maintaining visibility along roadways. Moreover, these considerations should include transit services and other multimodal aspects, such as bicycle, pedestrian, and transit access, safety, and efficiency of operations. Including these components from the very beginning of the project design and development process ensures that operations and safety considerations will have an identified, important role. Collaboration allows each functional area to benefit from projects and improvements being considered within other areas that already have identified funding.
Benefits
  • Increases options for combining identified funding-ultimately results in more cost-effective and comprehensive projects, addressing mobility and other community needs.
  • Reduces the need for additional/multiple projects with a solely operations, safety, or transit focus-more efficient, effective use of resources (funding, construction time and resulting delay, project development staff time).
Challenges
  • Flexing funds from different functional areas for planning purposes may not be possible and pose a barrier to collaboration.
  • Gaining consensus from all stakeholders that project considerations encompass identified needs, are necessary, and will improve the system.
Who Is Involved
  • Project development and environmental staff.
  • Operations and safety staff can offer insight on including nontraditional planning considerations that can make projects more effective and potentially reduce the need for additional projects in the future.
  • Planning staff, to link planning goals and considerations into project development.
  • Transit, bicycle, and pedestrian specialists to consider these aspects.
Recommended Implementation Steps
  1. Identify a project need using the SLRTP. At the State level, projects are often selected that will help maintain the overall transportation system, improve mobility, or increase safety.
  2. Prepare initial and final scoping document. As part of this preparation process, develop a multifunctional team to provide input on scoping components. The team should be composed of planners, operations staff, and safety staff to ensure that multifunctional considerations are incorporated initially in the process.
  3. Secure funding. The multifunctional team members should offer insight on operations of safety projects with secured funding. This will result in cost-effective solutions.
  4. Prepare environmental documentation.
  5. Gain public input on project characteristics.
  6. Gain consensus from all stakeholders (planners, operations staff, safety staff, and public) on project characteristics.
  7. Begin project construction. This stage lends itself to operations and safety strategies.

Relevant Examples

Virginia DOT and the Northern Regions Operation Staff: ITS Tools and Plans in Support of Project Development

VDOT NRO staff has made some significant progress in integrating operations components into the planning process for "nonoperations" or conventional transportation projects. This is primarily due to the outreach efforts of operations planning staff to proactively engage transportation planners, construction design staff, and other regional stakeholders with VDOT NRO"s plans and tools. VDOT NRO is a meld of planning and operations regions that includes the Virginia portion of the Metropolitan Washington MPO and the Fredericksburg MPO. The operations staff has significant ITS and signal-timing optimization experience and knowledge that can greatly enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of nonoperations alternatives and projects.

One tool developed by operations planning staff is the ITS Decision Support Tool (www.vdot-itsdst.com). The tool helps transportation professionals identify potential ITS solutions for conventional transportation problems. Within this tool, ITS alternatives are centralized and organized to facilitate the identification of ITS solutions in response to transportation needs. This tool considers hundreds of various solutions and then uses cost-benefit information to help inform decision-making. When used within the planning process, the ITS Decision Support Tool helps bridge the gap between ITS awareness and the decision-making knowledge required by project-level staff. Additionally, it guides transportation professionals and practitioners in the consideration of ITS solutions when developing design alternatives.

In addition to the ITS Decision Support Tool, VDOT NRO staff also developed ITS Device Master Plans for Dynamic Message Signs (DMS), Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) Cameras, and Detection. These master plans can be overlaid with construction plans to identify opportunities to include ITS deployments in construction projects. VDOT NRO staff is also looking to complete master plans for other devices such as ramp metering, RWIS, and other active traffic management (ATM) strategies. All plans are consolidated in GIS. With these tools and through cooperation between operations planning staff and transportation planners and traffic engineers, VDOT"s NRO division is able to consider potential low-cost and effective ITS strategies that improve safety and increase the capacity of the existing transportation network.

At this time, most of VDOT NRO"s success has been limited to engaging stakeholders at the project development level. Project funding supports full consideration of opportunities to include the addition of ITS enhancements in defined projects as well as the ability to take advantage of planned construction activities to install or upgrade ITS devices. The travel demand model, as the primary tool for long-range planning, does not interface well with the more micro-level analysis that supports operations planning. This deficiency can be most easily overcome at the corridor level, and the operations planning staff has sought opportunities to become involved at that level. The NRO operations staff has taken advantage of opportunities to participate in planning activities, as well as raise awareness throughout the region of the value that their tools and the ITS Master Plans can bring to the planning and implementation of conventional transportation projects.

More information is available at http://www.vdot-itsarch.com. Contact: J.D. Schneeberger, Northern Region Operations Planner, John.Schneeberger@VDOT.Virginia.gov or Amy Tang McElwain, Northern Region Operations, Amytang.Mcelwain@VDOT.Virginia.gov or James Witherspoon, Northern Region Operations, Planning and Programming, James.Witherspoon@VDOT.Virginia.gov.

Utah DOT: Operational Safety Report Process

The Operational Safety Report (OSR) was traditionally solely used to provide information on the safety-related aspects of a proposed project, but these safety considerations did not play a role in the development of the scope of projects. After listening to feedback received from those using the report, Utah DOT (UDOT) decided the OSR information could play an important role much earlier in the project development process-during the concept development and scoping phase.

The process has been refined so that now, once the Traffic and Safety Operations Engineer has completed the OSR, a copy will be sent to the Project Manager overseeing the project for the particular region. The Project Manager reviews the OSR recommendations for inclusion into the project. If the recommendations are not included in the project, the decision is documented through the UDOT design exception process.

The ultimate goal of aligning these processes is to provide the Project Manager with the valuable safety information contained in the OSR while the final concept and scope for a project is being developed. It is hoped that this will lead to safer projects and minimize project re-evaluation or design exceptions.

More information is available at: http://www.udot.utah.gov/main/f?p=100:pg:0:::1:T,V:2938. Contact: Robert Hull, Traffic and Safety Engineer, rhull@utah.gov, (801) 965-4273.

Section 6.2

Incorporate Operations and Safety-Related Traffic Management / Transportation Demand Management Strategies During Project Construction

Description Construction on roadways with existing high traffic demand presents a challenge in the short term in terms of maintaining safe and efficient travel conditions during the construction period. Work zone safety is often a major concern, as well as maintaining mobility and access during the construction period. Coordination among project development, operations, safety, and planning staff on project scheduling and funding for construction mitigation can help to minimize adverse impacts to the transportation system.

There are many traffic management/transportation demand management strategies that can be implemented to help minimize the negative effects of construction on system users and simultaneously address operations and safety concerns. These include variable message signs, dynamic lane closure system, coordinating with adjacent construction sites, incident/emergency response plans, and ridesharing/carpooling incentives, and marketing and implementation of transit services. If fully integrated, some of these short-term strategies, such as transit services and demand management programs, could also be considered for inclusion in longer-term corridor management.
Benefits
  • Increase the efficiency of the overall transportation system during project construction, while reducing inconvenience to system users and improving safety.
  • Reduce potentially negative effects on businesses" operations and sales through improved access.
Challenges
  • Major, long-term projects ("mega projects") may require substantial resources for effective traffic management.
  • It may be difficult to balance multiple objectives, such as reducing construction time and minimizing lane closures during peak periods. While night-time construction is often helpful, this needs to be considered in the context of issues such as construction noise on adjacent communities.
Who Is Involved
  • Operations staff will play a key role in identifying opportunities for implementing strategies to improve system efficiency. They should be consulted on simple, cost-effective ways to improve mobility in work zones and on ways to minimize delay by maximizing lane capacity.
  • Safety staff can offer insight on ways to combine operations and safety strategies to maximize the safety benefits.
  • Planning staff will offer assistance on how best to incorporate safety and operations strategies into local and statewide plans.
Recommended Implementation Steps
  1. Identify potential impacts on the system resulting from construction. Once a project scope has been identified and the project characteristics are known, estimate the likely impacts that will result by analyzing data on project characteristics. Based on these impacts, identify what scope of traffic management strategies should be considered.
  2. Develop goals and objectives to be achieved by the traffic management strategies.
  3. Develop a team of involved groups and interested parties to evaluate potential strategies to be implemented.
  4. Select traffic management strategies to be implemented.

Relevant Examples

Colorado DOT: I-25 and I-225 Reconstruction / Construction Demand Management 32

In an effort to confront congestion along I-25, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) and Regional Transportation District (RTD) initiated a multimodal design-build project called the Transportation Expansion Project, or T-REX. The T-REX Project was a $1.67 billion venture that transformed the way people in the metro Denver area travel along the southeast corridor of Interstates 25 and 225. The T-REX project added 19 miles of light rail and improved 17 miles of highway through southeast Denver, Aurora, Greenwood Village, Centennial and Lone Tree with capacity and safety improvements. T-REX construction began in fall 2001 and finished on-time and within budget in 2006.

The contractor hired to complete the T-REX Project, Southeast Corridor Constructors, made it a primary goal to reduce inconvenience to the public. As a result, $3 million of the budget was set aside for Transportation Demand Management activities during construction. Due to the fluid nature of a design-build project and the foresight of those involved, a number of project features were deployed to manage travel demand during construction. In November 2002, T-REX opened a temporary bus/HOV lane on I-25 to promote the benefit of higher occupancy modes. In May 2003, T-REX launched a real-time instant email alert system utilizing project ITS components as they became operational. Transportation Solutions partnered with other organizations in the area to provide outreach and incentives to encourage motorists to use alternative modes of transportation. 33 TransOptions built on the success of the TMAs and TMOs and established demand-side programs implemented by local jurisdictions including the Denver Regional Council of Government"s RideArrangers.

More information is available at http://www.ops.fhwa.dot.gov/publications/mitig_traf_cong/denver_case.htm. Contact: Reza Akhavan, Region 6 Transportation Director, Reza.Akhavan@dot.state.co.us, (303) 757-9459.

Iowa DOT: Demand Management Strategy for I-235 Reconstruction 34

A comprehensive transportation demand management (TDM) strategy was part of the reconstruction of I-235 in Des Moines. Based on local public input and traffic count data showing that congestion was only an issue during the morning and afternoon peak periods, the decision was made to do a limited build rather than a more expensive full build project, and to establish a goal to reduce travel demand by 10 percent during peak hours by the year 2020 in order to maintain roadway performance. As part of the reconstruction, the Iowa DOT helped implement the Transportation Management Center and a Transportation Management Association (TMA) in 2002 to reduce traffic during the reconstruction project and to implement the long-range TDM plan. The TMA was tasked with promoting strategies such as flexible work hours, carpools, vanpools, and mass transit. Changes were also made to transit services, including adding routes, increasing park-and-ride services, and publicizing the rideshare program and other incentive programs. The TMA is now funded by the Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority, city of Des Moines, Downtown Community Alliance, and Des Moines Area MPO.

More information is available at http://www.iowadot.gov/i-235/insidei235/faq.htm. Contact: Lorne Wazny, District 1 Transportation Planner, Lorne.Wazny@dot.iowa.gov, (515) 239-1996.

Utah DOT: Using Technology and Demand Management Approaches During Reconstruction of I-15 35

UDOT reconstructed 17 miles of I-15 in July 2001 using a design-build approach in order to rebuild the entire corridor before the 2002 Olympic Games. The project was completed in four and a half years at a cost of about $1.52 billion, with an initial ATMS investment of $70 million. An integral component of reconstruction involved enhancing the capacity of I-15 by adding two general purpose lanes, two HOV lanes and auxiliary lanes between interchanges. The project also involved improving access to downtown Salt Lake City, providing railroad grade-separations, replacing deficient bridges and utilizing single-point interchange design. The project mitigated conflicting merging traffic movements and significant traffic congestion.

UDOT used a combination of demand-side strategies to maintain traffic during reconstruction, one of which was the ITS system, CommuterLink. CommuterLink consists of a Traffic Operations Center, control software, and field equipment (VMS signs, cameras, and signal controllers). The comprehensive system includes a 511 Traveler Information Line, coordinated signals, ramp meters, and speed, volume, weather and pavement sensors. UDOT installed the bulk of the $70 million worth of ATMS equipment using a design-build procurement method. CommuterLink was funded mostly by State funds ($52 million) with local ($1 million) and federal ($17 million) contributions.

ATMS technology enabled jurisdictions to monitor construction impacts, respond to traffic accidents faster, and communicate with the motoring public. The UDOT TOC is directly linked to both the Salt Lake City and Salt Lake County Traffic Control Centers and the Utah Transit Authority (UTA) Radio Center to provide seamless communication between jurisdictions. UDOT also undertook a marketing campaign recognizing that one of the best ways to minimize traffic conflicts and delays on the interState during reconstruction was to reduce the number of vehicles on the road. Employers and employees were encouraged to participate in ridesharing opportunities provided by UTA and commuter transit services, the Telecommuting Directive, and the Corridor Business Program. Informational services included the use of the internet, highway advisory radio, media outlets, signing, seminars and open houses.

The ATMS was put to the test for the 2002 Winter Olympic Games. After the conclusion of the games, program components were assessed. It was determined that by adjusting daily working hours, increased transit use, carpools, and utilizing alternate routes, the needs of residents, athletes, and spectators were successfully met. Beyond the games, CommuterLink has proven to be a very effective tool. During its first years of operation, it was attributed with the following successes:

Overall, CommuterLink is estimated to save Utah more than $100 million annually.

More information is available at http://www.ops.fhwa.dot.gov/publications/mitig_traf_cong/slc_case.htm. Contact: Christina Davis, Utah DOT I-15 Core Project Communications Manager, ChristinaDavis@utah.gov, (801) 341-6426.

Toolkit: Work Zone Management Strategies by Category

I. Temporary Traffic Control
A. Control Strategies B. Traffic Control Devices C. Project Coordination, Contracting, and Innovative Construction Strategies
IA1. Construction phasing/staging
IA2. Full roadway closures
IA3. Lane shifts or closures
Reduced lane widths to maintain number of lanes (constriction)
Lane closures to provide worker safety
Reduced shoulder width to maintain number of lanes
Shoulder closures to provide worker safety
Lane shift to shoulder/median to maintain number of lanes
IA4. One-lane, two-way operation
IA5. Two-way traffic on one side of divided facility (crossover)
IA6. Reversible lanes
IA7. Ramp closures/relocation
IA8. Freeway-to-freeway interchange closures
IA9. Night work
IA10. Weekend work
IA11. Work hour restrictions for peak travel
IA12. Pedestrian/bicycle access improvements
IA13. Business access improvements
IA14. Off-site detours/use of alternate routes
IB1. Temporary signs
Warning
Regulatory
Guide/ information
IB2. Changeable message signs (CMS)
IB3. Arrow panels
IB4. Channelizing devices
IB5. Temporary pavement markings
IB6. Flaggers and uniformed traffic control officers
IB7. Temporary traffic signals
IB8. Lighting devices
IC1. Project coordination
Coordination with other projects
Utilities coordination
Right-of-way coordination
Coordination with other transportation infrastructure
IC2. Contracting strategies
Design-build
A+B bidding
Incentive/disincentive clauses
Lane rental
IC3. Innovative construction techniques (precast members, rapid cure materials)
II. Public Information
A. Public Awareness Strategies B. Motorist Information Strategies
IIA1. Brochures and mailers
IIA2. Press releases/media alerts
IIA3. Paid advertisements
IIA4. Public information center
IIA5. Telephone hotline
IIA6. Planned lane closure web site
IIA7. Project web site
IIA8. Public meetings/hearings
IIA9. Community task forces
IIA10. Coordination with media/schools/businesses/ emergency services
IIA11. Work zone education and safety campaigns
IIA12. Work zone safety highway signs
IIA13. Rideshare promotions
IIA14. Visual information (videos, slides, presentations) for meetings and web
IIB1. Traffic radio
IIB2. Changeable message signs (CMS)
IIB3. Temporary motorist information signs
IIB4. Dynamic speed message sign
IIB5. Highway advisory radio (HAR)
IIB6. Extinguishable signs
IIB7. Highway information network (web-based)
IIB8. 511 traveler information systems (wireless, handhelds)
IIB9. Freight travel information
IIB10. Transportation management center (TMC)
III. Transportation Operations
A. Demand Management
Strategies
B. Corridor/Network Management
Strategies
C. Work Zone Safety Management
Strategies
D. Traffic/Incident Management
and Enforcement Strategies
IIIA1. Transit service improvements
IIIA2. Transit incentives
IIIA3. Shuttle services
IIIA4. Ridesharing/carpooling incentives
IIIA5. Park-and-ride promotion
IIIA6. High-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes
IIIA7. Toll/congestion pricing
IIIA8. Ramp metering
IIIA9. Parking supply management
IIIA10. Variable work hours
IIIA11. Telecommuting
IIIB1. Signal timing/coordination improvements
IIIB2. Temporary traffic signals
IIIB3. Street/intersection improvements
IIIB4. Bus turnouts
IIIB5. Turn restrictions
IIIB6. Parking restrictions
IIIB7. Truck/heavy vehicle restrictions
IIIB8. Separate truck lanes
IIIB9. Reversible lanes
IIIB10. Dynamic lane closure system
IIIB11. Ramp metering
IIIB12. Temporary suspension of ramp metering
IIIB13. Ramp closures
IIIB14. Railroad crossings controls
IIIB15. Coordination with adjacent construction site(s)
IIIC1. Speed limit reduction/variable speed limits
IIIC2. Temporary traffic signals
IIIC3. Temporary traffic barrier
IIIC4. Movable traffic barrier systems
IIIC5. Crash-cushions
IIIC6. Temporary rumble strips
IIIC7. Intrusion alarms
IIIC8. Warning lights
IIIC9. Automated Flagger Assistance Devices (AFADs)
IIIC10. Project task force/committee
IIIC11. Construction safety supervisors/inspectors
IIIC12. Road safety audits
IIIC13. TMP monitor/inspection team
IIIC14. Team meetings
IIIC15. Project on-site safety training
IIIC16. Safety awards/incentives
IIIC17. Windshield surveys
IIID1. ITS for traffic monitoring/management
IIID2. Transportation management center (TMC)
IIID3. Surveillance [Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV), loop detectors, lasers, probe vehicles]
IIID4. Helicopter for aerial surveillance
IIID5. Traffic screens
IIID6. Call boxes
IIID7. Mile-post markers
IIID8. Tow/freeway service patrol
IIID9. Total station units
IIID10. Photogrammetry
IIID11. Coordination with media
IIID12. Local detour routes
IIID13. Contract support for incident management
IIID14. Incident/emergency management coordinator
IIID15. Incident/emergency response plan
IIID16. Dedicated (paid) police enforcement
IIID17. Cooperative police enforcement
IIID18. Automated enforcement
IIID19. Increased penalties for work zone violations

Sample Portions of Table B.1 TMP Strategy Matrix-Mobility/Safety Improvement and Considerations for Implementation

I. Temporary Traffic Control (TTC) Strategies
Management Strategy Mobility Improvement Motorist Safety Improvement Worker Safety Improvement Triggers for Consideration Potential Pros Potential Challenges Other Considerations
A. Control Strategies
IA12. Pedestrian/ bicycle access improvements yes yes  
  • Long project duration
  • Significant pedestrian/ bicyclist activities
  • Existing sidewalks traverse the work zone
  • A school route traverses the work zone
Safer for pedestrians and bicyclists Additional cost to build alternate paths for pedestrians/bicyclists  
B. Project Coordination, Contracting and Innovative Construction Strategies
IC1. Coordination with other projects yes     May be beneficial to any project
  • Reduces motorist delay
  • Minimizes impacts to potentially affected businesses and communities
  • Reduces exposure time to road work
  • May increase efficiencies
May be difficult to identify potential projects to coordinate with Routine agency meetings may address coordination at the project level, corridor level, district region level, and at the State level

Source: Federal Highway Administration. Developing and Implementing Transportation Management Plans for Work Zones. June 2009. Available at: http://www.ops.fhwa.dot.gov/wz/resources/publications/trans_mgmt_plans/app_b_t1.htm. Accessed July 13, 2009

Relevant Resources

Federal Highway Administration, Office of Operations, Work Zone Mobility and Safety Program, Developing and Implementing Transportation Management Plans for Work Zones, http://ops.fhwa.dot.gov/wz/resources/publications/trans_mgmt_plans/index.htm, and appendix B, http://www.ops.fhwa.dot.gov/wz/resources/publications/trans_mgmt_plans/app_b_t1.htm.

Section 6.3

Self-Assessment Checklist: Project-Level Opportunities

The following checklist may be used as a self-assessment to identify project-level opportunities for integrating operations and safety into multimodal planning. The user should consider the questions, whether or not the State DOT is undertaking the activity, and what can be done to improve integration.

Checklist: Project-Level Opportunities
Question Yes No If no, what can be added or improved? Relevant
Subsection
Are operations and safety components being incorporated into project planning and design?       6.1
Are transit operations and service considerations, and other multimodal aspects (e.g., bicycles, pedestrians) considered in project planning and design?       6.1
Are operations and safety components being incorporated into project construction mitigation?       6.2
Are project-level operations activities (e.g., demand management during construction) being considered as opportunities for broader planning initiatives to address operations and safety within corridors?       6.2

32 Transportation Solutions. T-REX Project and Southeast Light Rail. http://www.transolutions.org/?q=trex. Accessed 1/28/09.

33 USDOT, Federal Highway Administration, Office of Operations. I-25 & I-225 Reconstruction-Denver, CO. http://www.ops.fhwa.dot.gov/publications/mitig_traf_cong/denver_case.htm. Accessed 1/16/09.

34 American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. Combating Congestion through Leadership, Innovation, and Resources: A Summary Report on the 2007 National Congestion Summits. September, 2007. p. 30.

35 US DOT, Federal Highway Administration Office of Operations. I-15 Reconstruction-Salt Lake City, UT. http://www.ops.fhwa.dot.gov/publications/mitig_traf_cong/slc_case.htm. Accessed 1/16/09.

Updated: 09/04/2013
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