Lessons Learned from European Work ZonesAbstract:
To get a first-hand look at how other countries manage the flow of traffic through work zones, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) organized a May 1999 scanning tour of Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Scotland, and France. The ultimate objectives of the scanning tour team were to improve highway construction and maintenance operations, reduce motorist’s delays, and increase worker and motorist safety. The team members set off to accomplish these objectives by uncovering new methods already in use and identifying potential areas for research. During the tour, the team members visited construction and maintenance sites and met with highway agency representatives. They found that most of the countries emphasize shorter construction periods and even encourage contract proposals that minimize project duration. There are incentives provided for work completed ahead of schedule, and disincentives for contractors that exceed the agreed upon completion date. In all five countries, the tour members observed ambitious public outreach programs aimed at communicating with motorists both before and during project and maintenance work. Another strategy used to minimize work zone traffic delays in Europe is the narrowing of lanes, which eliminates the need for closing a lane and allows the flow of traffic to continue through work zones. A study done by the German highway agency found that narrow lanes also have a slowing effect on speed.