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Traffic Incident Management in Construction and Maintenance Work Zones

In 2004, the Federal Highway Administration published updated rules governing work zone safety and mobility; all highway construction and maintenance projects using federal-aid highway funds are required to develop transportation management plans (TMP) focusing on safety and the reduction of traffic mobility impacts through coordination. The project TMP should consist of a collection of administrative, procedural, and operational strategies for managing and mitigating the impacts of work zones. It is important for planners, operations personnel, and incident responders to understand why the transportation operation elements are vital in the process of developing the TMP. This document addresses the special needs and concerns when managing traffic incidents within a work zone and focuses on incident management as a strategy to be considered in the transportation operations component of the TMP. A description of techniques and strategies that can be used to handle incidents in work zones is presented. Some trend-setting approaches used on high-profile construction projects are also showcased as examples of good incident response planning incorporated at the design level. The contractor's role in dealing with incidents within the work zone is addressed as well as the description of processes, procedures, and practices related to the detection, response, and clearance of incidents. The importance of including incident management procedures as an element of the transportation operations component of these plans is emphasized. The goals, objectives, and reasons for incident management as well as the issues and concerns that work zone planners, incident responders, and traffic operators need to consider in the planning phases of a work zone project are presented. Common work zone incident management strategies are described.

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