Work zone top nine questions for designers

  1. What is a TMP?

    A Transportation Management Plan (TMP) is a set of strategies for managing the work zone impacts of a project. A TMP is required for all projects and is a key element in addressing all work zone safety and mobility impacts. The TMP development begins in the scoping phase of a project by gathering project information, traffic data, impacts assessment, strategies, and mitigation and design solutions.
  2. In the Final Project Definition form, what do I really need to write in Box 6, Work Zone Strategy?

    A finalized strategy or TMP is not expected since some information may be conceptual at this level. The important information to include is as follows:

    Indicate whether the project is considered significant or potentially significant.

    Indicate known or potential major impacts

    Even if the project is not considered significant, list the known elements that the TMP will address including type of Traffic Control Plans, Transportation Operations Plan issues, and Public Information Plan needs.
  3. How do I determine if my project is significant?

    The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) requirements define a significant project as:
    A project that, alone or in combination with other concurrent projects nearby, is anticipated to cause sustained work zone impacts that are greater than what is considered tolerable based on an assessment of work zone safety and mobility impacts and the level of mitigation possible.

    Interstate projects within the boundaries of a Transportation Management Area that occupy a location for more than three days with either intermittent or continuous lane closures are considered significant. It is possible to request an exception from FHWA for Interstate projects if sufficient justification is present to demonstrate that a project will not have sustained work zone impacts.
    Significant projects are further defined as:
    Any project with an anticipated work zone-related impact that cannot be mitigated to an acceptable level. An acceptable level will be defined by the region based on its knowledge of the project’s local and regional area and the extent and adverse affect an impact may have on the area.
  4. How am I supposed to know how the contractor will build the project?

    There are often many ways to stage a construction project, bearing in mind traffic safety and construction efficiencies. During the design of a project, there is the requirement to provide a constructible, maintainable, safe, and mobile project concept that is translated into an effective TMP, even though the contractor may propose another TMP.
  5. How do I know what is meant by safe and mobile?

    These terms are definable within the context of the project. There is no one answer to fit every case and no project is completely safe or fully mobile. Complete consideration of all the factors involved will lead to conclusions that include known effective safety and mobility measures.
  6. Aren't we exposed to more legal liability by providing TMP at such a detailed level?

    No. A well-developed TMP that is based on known accepted policy and accurate information is actually the best defense against legal action. Poor implementation of the TMP would more likely be the cause for concern.
  7. Doesn't a comprehensive TMP add more cost to the project?

    Cost is a legitimate concern and cost-effectiveness and containment are intended to be part of the selected strategy analysis and TMP. The bottom line is that it is less costly to include work zone costs as part of the project than it is to add them later by change order. Also, providing for safety and mobility can add costs, but these costs are usually more than offset by the benefits provided. These costs need to be identified early on in the scoping phase to provide an adequate project estimate.
  8. Why can't I just reuse the Traffic Control Plans from a previous project?

    You may be able to do so, but not without careful consideration of all the project information. Usually, each project has some unique features or different traffic conditions, even though that work may be similar. It is strongly recommended to conduct the impact assessment process first, then determine what plans may be appropriate. You may also be able to consult with the construction office that implemented a previous Traffic Control Plan to determine if it was effective. 
  9. Where do I go for work zone assistance and answers?

    Working within the structure and protocol of your office and region, there are several resources in the form of expert advice or information available. Also, inquire at the region and the HQ Design, Construction, and Traffic offices. Generally, work zone design is not a "cookbook" approach, and the designer needs to be prepared to actively pursue all available information and resources.

For additional information and design guidance refer to Design Manual Chapter 1010 and attend the Traffic Control Plan Design Course.