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Highway Work Zone Safety Program

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government

Highway Work Zone Safety Program

Rodney E. Slater
Federal Highway Administration
Federal Register
September 8, 1994

[Federal Register: September 8, 1994]



Federal Highway Administration

[FHWA Docket No. 94-17]

Highway Work Zone Safety Program

AGENCY: Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), DOT.

ACTION: Notice and request for comments.


SUMMARY: This notice describes an initiative being considered by the 
FHWA for inclusion in the National Highway Work Zone Safety Program 
(NHWZSP). The purpose of the program is to enhance safety at highway 
construction, maintenance, and utility sites by improving the quality 
and effectiveness of traffic operations, safety appurtenances, traffic 
control devices, and traffic maintenance bidding practices. The FHWA 
requests comments on this proposed program.

DATES: Comments must be received on or before November 7, 1994.

ADDRESSES: Submit written, signed comments concerning this program to 
FHWA docket No. 94-17, Federal Highway Administration, Room 4232, HCC-
10, Office of the Chief Counsel, 400 Seventh Street, SW., Washington, 
D.C. 20590. All comments received will be available for examination at 
the above address between 8:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. e.t., Monday through 
Friday, except Federal holidays.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Harry W. Taylor, Safety Technology 
& Information Management Division, 202-366-2175 or Mr. Joseph Solomey, 
Office of Chief Counsel, HCC-20, 202-366-1374, Federal Highway 
Administration, 400 Seventh Street, SW., Washington D.C. 20590.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Most highway work zones occur due to road 
and structural improvements, maintenance activities, or utility work 
performed by contractors, public employees or by various utility 
companies at the request or approval of a government agency. As such, 
these State and local governments have primary responsibility for 
planning and controlling work zones to ensure the safe and convenient 
travel of the general public as well as the safety of the workers.
    The FHWA views its role as providing leadership, guidance and 
oversight to improve work zone safety of Federal-aid projects. The FHWA 
has exercised its leadership and guidance through the years by updating 
its regulations; maintaining procedures, technology and safety 
information bases; initiating revisions to the National Manual on 
Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) relative to work zone 
operations; developing national training courses for improving the 
design and operations of work zones; conducting related research; 
holding national work zone safety conferences; and issuing technology 
transfer syntheses to assist in the rapid transfer of work zone 
technology and procedures. As required by Section 1051 of the 
Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) of 1991 
(Public Law 102-240, December 18, 1991, 105 Stat 1914, 2001), the FHWA 
has completed its initial draft of a National Highway Work Zone Safety 
Program. By publishing the initial draft listed below, the FHWA is 
requesting public comment prior to implementation of the final program.

Highway Work Zone Safety Program

A. Introduction

    Section 1051 of ISTEA requires the Secretary of Transportation to 
``* * * develop and implement a work zone safety program which will 
improve work zone safety at highway construction sites by enhancing the 
quality and effectiveness of traffic control devices, safety 
appurtenances, traffic control plans, and bidding practices for traffic 
control devices and services.''
    Section 1051 is the result of Congressional concern for the 
continuing number of fatalities and injuries that annually occur in 
work zones and its desire to improve the situation nationally. In 
response to that concern, the FHWA has developed this program based 
upon FHWA experience, National Transportation Safety Board findings, 
annual work zone safety reports and other relevant information such as 
research reports, and technical articles. The following discussion is 
intended to cover the key components of the program in sufficient 
detail to permit government, industry, and the public to comment on the 
appropriate scope and content of the work zone safety program.

B. Objective and Scope

    The objective of the National Highway Work Zone Safety Program 
(NHWZSP) is to enhance safety at highway work sites. The program is 
applicable to all public highways and streets, but will emphasize 
activities pertinent to the National Highway System. The intent is to 
have a continuing program with biannual reviews and updating where 

C. Work Zone Program

    The program has been divided into four components, 
(standardization, compliance, evaluation, and innovation) to provide a 
broad based, cooperative work zone safety initiative. Included under 
each component are current, planned or recommended activities that will 
aid in its implementation. In addition, an individual activity can 
often support other components than the component it is listed under.
1. Standardization--Update Existing and Initiate New Standards Related 
to Work Zone Safety
    Standardization and uniformity are essential to communicating needs 
and requirements to implementing agencies and industries, assuring 
adequate safety for the traveling public and workers, and promoting 
better understanding and compliance by all concerned. To achieve this 
end, FHWA will undertake the following actions:
    a. Update 23 CFR Subpart J, ``Traffic Safety in Highway and Street 
Work Zones.'' Review the current work zone problems and update the 
guidance to reflect current needs and emphasis including reinforcement 
of guidance on bidding practices, work zone clear zones, work zone 
crash data collection and analysis, and work zone speed limits.
    b. Develop retroreflectivity guidance for work zone signs and 
pavement markings. Include this guidance in the Manual on Uniform 
Traffic Control Devices, Part VI, ``Standards and Guides for Traffic 
Control for Street and Highway Construction, Maintenance, Utility, and 
Incident Management Operations,'' when it is next updated. Develop a 
training program to implement the new guidance. A copy of Part VI of 
the MUTCD is available in docket number 94-17 for review.
    c. Establish the crashworthiness of work zone safety appurtenances 
by implementing a crash testing program for evaluation and any needed 
redesign of generic appurtenances. The crash test program will adopt 
the procedures included in the National Cooperative Highway Research 
Report (NCHRP) 350, ``Recommended Procedures for the Safety Performance 
Evaluation of Highway Features'' and develop any clarification or 
additional guidance that may be needed. (NCHRP Report 350 may be 
obtained from the Transportation Research Board, National Research 
Council, 2101 Constitution Avenue, NW., Washington, D.C. 20418.)
2. Ensure Compliance
    Experience in work zone operations leads to the belief that simply 
ensuring compliance with existing standards and guidelines at all times 
would substantially improve the safety and operation of work zones. The 
causes of noncompliance include the failure of the implementation of 
work zone traffic control plans to keep pace with the changing 
construction activities, as well as the gradual deterioration of 
devices over time. To address these issues, the FHWA will:
    a. Identify and promote the use of procedures and specifications 
which help achieve or maintain an acceptable level of quality for 
traffic control plan setups, including traffic control devices and 
safety appurtenances used in highway work zones. For example, develop 
inspection methods that identify devices which have been improperly 
installed or inadequately maintained for immediate correction and which 
will increase contractor's accountability.
    b. Promote the development and implementation of public awareness 
and education programs designed to alert and affect behavior of the 
drivers, including drivers of heavy vehicles, pedestrians, new drivers, 
older drivers and bicyclists who traverse highway work zones.
    c. Provide highway agencies with guidance and criteria on 
certification programs for flaggers and work site safety supervisors.
    d. Develop a document on ``Good Practices for the Safety Management 
System'' which will include management of work zones.
3. Improve Evaluation of Work Zones
    Evaluation is a necessary tool for diagnosis of failures and 
identification of successes in work zone operations. Through 
evaluation, it is possible to discern opportunities for new 
countermeasures and to measure the benefit of current ones. Activities 
in this area will include:
    a. The FHWA in cooperation with the National Highway Traffic Safety 
Administration (NHTSA) will develop guidelines for the collection and 
reporting of data on deaths and injuries occurring in highway work 
    b. The FHWA will provide an annual report to the Secretary on 
efforts being made by the States in reducing deaths and injuries 
occurring at highway work sites and the effectiveness of such efforts.
    c. The FHWA will annually review a sampling of active highway 
construction, maintenance, and utility projects. The review will 
include a detailed analysis of traffic control plans and their 
revisions, the validity and condition of the traffic control devices 
(both day and night), and appropriate management and enforcement 
    d. The FHWA will assist State highway agencies in evaluating their 
programs and procedures for collecting and analyzing work zone accident 
and incident data.
4. Implement Innovative Technologies and Procedures
    Innovation can help improve safety and traffic flow in critical 
situations. This innovation is not only in the development of new 
products and procedures, but also involves the more effective use of 
existing ones by providing training. The FHWA will:
    a. Demonstrate, evaluate, and complete (where necessary) the 
development of the Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP) Work Zone 
Safety Products, such as: the flashing stop/slow paddle, intrusion 
alarms, direction indicator barricades for lane closures, portable 
crash cushion trailers, and opposing traffic lane dividers. All of the 
products are designed to make the work zone safer.
    b. Encourage the increased use of innovative protective devices for 
work zones of short-term and intermediate-term stationary duration, 
such as Truck Mounted Attenuators (TMA), by providing state-of-the-
practice reports and training aids to the field.
    c. Conduct research on condition-responsive work zone traffic 
control systems and operations applicable to longer-term construction 
areas. As an example, the ``Vehicle Queue Backup Warning System'', 
should be designed to warn motorists and workers of situations which 
could produce hazards such as a traffic stoppage.
    d. Develop for State and local government use, a comprehensive work 
zone safety training program, which will encompass courses ranging from 
an understanding and application of basic concepts to procedures for 
developing complex work zone strategies. The work zone training program 
developed through the FHWA's National Highway Institute (NHI) will 
include the following courses:

(1) Design and Operation of Work Zone Traffic Control,
(2) Inspection of Construction Zone Hardware,
(3) Developing Traffic Control Plans and Strategies,
(4) Transportation Alternatives During Highway Reconstruction, and
(5) Work Zone Safety for Maintenance Operations on Rural Highways.

    e. Encourage the trial use of the Community/Corridor Traffic Safety 
Program (C/CTSP) concept on large complex highway construction projects 
or a series of projects along a single route. The C/CTSP is a 
comprehensive multi-disciplinary approach to solving safety problems, 
looking not only at highway problems, but also possible problems with 
the driver or the vehicle.
    f. Encourage the use of techniques identified in the 1992 report to 
Congress entitled, ``Traffic/Congestion Management During Highway 
Construction'' to minimize disruptions to traffic during construction 
of highway projects.

D. Work Zone Program Implementation

    The FHWA will co-sponsor a National Work Zone Conference (late 
1994) with the American Association of State Highway and Transportation 
Officials (AASHTO), the American Road and Transportation Builders 
Association (ARTBA), and the American Traffic Safety Services 
Association (ATSSA). Other organizations cooperating in the planning of 
the conference and which will have representatives attending are the 
Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE); the American Society of 
Civil Engineers; the International Bridge, Tunnel, and Turnpike 
Association (IBTTA); International Association of Chiefs of Police; 
National Association of County Engineers; and the Highway User 
Federation for Safety and Mobility. The intent of the conference is to:
    a. Discuss the FHWA work zone safety program content and receive 
input for further modification,
    b. identify the latest technology, procedures, and effective 
programs that can contribute to improving the safety of work zones,
    c. develop renewed emphasis and interest for work zone safety 
    The FHWA Division Administrator will work in partnership with the 
State highway and other appropriate agencies to develop and implement a 
Statewide highway work zone safety program based on the four program 

    Authority: 23 U.S.C. 315; 49 CFR 1.48; Sec. 1051 of Pub. L. 102-
240, 105 Stat. 1914, 2001.)

    Issued on: August 31, 1994.
Rodney E. Slater,
Federal Highway Administrator.
[FR Doc. 94-22094 Filed 9-7-94; 8:45 am]

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