On February 3rd, I sat in on a work zone ITS workshop during ATSSA’s Traffic Expo. Three speakers (Jawad Paracha, Chris Brooks, and Scott McCanna) took us through their Every Day Counts presentation on Smarter Work Zones. It was very well done. They worked well together and clearly made the case for the increased use of work zone ITS. Every Day Counts is an FHWA initiative to jump start the use of proven, but underused technologies and this presentation does that very well.
During the discussion one resource was mentioned that I would like to discuss here. They referred often to the Work Zone ITS Implementation Guide (Report # FHWA-HOP-14-008). Several folks in the room said they refer to the one page chart on page 26 when considering the use of work zone ITS on a project:
I think we, as work zone ITS practitioners, often take this subject for granted. We do this every day so we tend to forget that others may be overwhelmed with the options and complexity of our systems. This chart does a great job of reducing the options to a select few. With that short list designers can quickly find the system designed to address their specific needs.
This mirrors our experience with specifications. Most state’s first attempts were high level specifications describing a work zone ITS system. It was assumed that designers would then fill in the details in the bid documents including things like the number and type of sensors, message boards, etc. But that, too, proved too complicated for people who don’t normally work with our systems. Now states are moving toward application specific specifications: queue warning systems, travel time systems, etc.
FHWA wants states to use more work zone ITS. Through channels like Every Day Counts and this Work Zone ITS Implementation Guide they are making it easier for agencies to take that next step. It is now up to system suppliers to ensure their first experience is one they will be proud of and one they will build on in the years to come.