Iowa Department of Transportation
Smart Work Zone Deployment Initiative
John Shawjwshaw@iastate.edu email >
Research Scientist, CTRE
About the research
In the Work Zone Activity Data Logging Phase I project, state transportation agencies in the SWZDI states and beyond expressed a strong need for better information about the location, extent, and timing of lane closures. More than a dozen use cases for detailed lane closure data were identified and prioritized, such as helping first-responders avoid closures, providing more accurate public information about closure locations and timing, and more efficiently conducing post-construction work zone traffic management effectiveness reviews. Phase I affirmed that the vast majority of state DOTs currently lack the ability to track lane closures at the level of temporal and spatial detail required for these uses. Among the very few agencies that have the technical ability to record this information, the data lacks reliability. Closures on county and municipal routes were seldom, if ever, tracked.
Phase I showed that existing data sources are not sufficient to support the high-priority use cases. For example, although underperforming work zones sometimes show up in traffic management center (TMC) delay data, it is difficult to distinguish work zone delays from delays caused by traffic crashes. Since the exact closure location, timing, and extent are seldom recorded, even agencies with lane closure permitting systems are experiencing great difficulty relating work zone performance to closure characteristics. Moreover, TMC databases provide almost no information about well-performing work zones, making it extraordinarily difficult to pinpoint factors of success.
To address these needs, the Phase I project gathered information about existing work zone data sources, identified relevant standards, and developed a series of sketches that lay out a vision for an easy-to-use lane closure data collection application or website. The goal of this project is to transform these conceptual sketches into a working prototype that generates data in a format that could eventually be integrated with TMC data and other existing data sources to provide a more complete picture of work zone performance.