Enhancing Non-motorized Mobility within Construction Zones
Acquisition of lanes and sidewalks for construction activities increases congestion and delays and compromises safety. Further, work zones impair access to local businesses, bus stops, nearby facilities, etc., while hindering mobility of pedestrians, cyclists, and emergency responders. The emphasis on non-motorized mobility varies significantly when temporary traffic control management plans are developed for small cities. Due to lack of specific instructions given to contractors and the potential liability issues, contractors tend to completely close access to non-motorized traffic without providing alternate routes. When long detours are provided, pedestrians and cyclists tend to pass through the construction zone or jaywalk which greatly increases the risk of accidents that could result in injuries and fatalities.
National and international publications, manuals, policies and guidelines were reviewed, and a survey was conducted to synthesize best practices and the minimum requirements of street components. A work zone and mobility management framework, a list of possible alternatives for managing non-motorized traffic within and around a construction zone, and a risk-based decision-support framework for identifying the most viable alternative during construction activities were developed. In addition, strategies to manage access to emergency responders, local businesses, commercial and residential buildings, and various other facilities are also presented. Innovative technologies, infrastructure, and construction methods that can be used to enhance safety and mobility are also documented.
Acquisition of lanes, walkways, etc., due to construction activities increases congestion and delays while compromising safety. Further, work zones impair access to local businesses, transit facilities, bus stops, schools, and nearby facilities while hindering mobility of pedestrians, cyclists, and emergency responders. On the other hand, emergency response teams need the fastest access to a location or a facility. The impact is significant when construction zones are located in urban areas. An abrupt termination of non-motorized facilities causes immense inconvenience to non-motorized traffic. Figure 1 shows a work zone that was established for utility work by abruptly closing non-motorized facilities for months. Typically, pedestrians and cyclists are reluctant to add distance or out-of-the-way travel to a destination. Also, emergency response teams need the quickest access route to a location/facility. This highlighted the needs of reviewing and synthesizing the policies and guidelines, best practices, use of less-invasive construction methods to reduce construction duration and length, and use of infrastructure and technology to provide safe access through construction zones.
The focus of the research was to review and synthesize the policies and guidelines, best practices, use of less-invasive construction methods to reduce construction duration and length, and use of infrastructure and technology to provide safe access through construction zones. A survey was undertaken during the research to identify case studies of green, walk-friendly, and bike-friendly cities. Based on the literature review and survey results, a work zone and mobility management framework, a list of possible alternatives for managing non-motorized traffic within and around a construction zone, and a risk-based decision-support framework for identifying the most viable alternative for managing non-motorized mobility during construction activities were developed. In addition, strategies to manage access to emergency responders, local businesses, commercial and residential buildings, and various other facilities were also presented. The following specific conclusions are derived from this study:
1) The policies, guidelines, and the minimum requirement of street components used by many agencies are primarily based on the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG), and Public Right-Of-Way Accessibility Guidelines (PROWAG). Slight modifications are made to the content of such publications and adopted to develop agency specific publications.
2) With the introduction of the complete street policies, highway and city officials evaluate alternatives for managing non-motorized traffic for projects with long-term stationary work duration. However, agencies pay little or no attention to managing non-motorized mobility when the work duration is no more than 3 days. Hence, managing non-motorized mobility becomes the contractors’ responsibility. Due to lack of specific instructions and the potential liability issues, contractors tend to completely close access to non-motorized traffic without providing alternate routes within or around work zones.
3) Trespassing and jaywalking are promoted when available non-motorized facilities are closed and alternate safe routes are not provided within or around construction zones. Trespassing increases the risk of encountering with construction activities and equipment. Jaywalking promotes conflict between non-motorized traffic and live motorized traffic. Accident risk to cyclists increases when adequate space is not provided to navigate and maneuver. In addition, presence of uneven surface conditions increases the risk of accidents due to tripping and falling leading to injuries and fatalities.
4) Less-invasive construction methods and technologies can be implemented to reduce the space requirements for construction activities. Trenchless technology is such an innovative method. The trenchless technology selection matrix presented in the report can be used to identify the most suitable technology and method for a give site.
5) Work zone and mobility management framework presented in the report can be used as a preplanning tool, irrespective of the duration of project.
6) The guidance graphs in the National Cycle Manual published by the National Transport Authority, Durbin, Ireland (NCM 2011) can be used as a decision tool for selecting shared lanes, bike lanes, or bike ways for a given road segment.
7) The risk-based decision-support framework presented in Figure 2 for managing non-motorized mobility and the level-of-service (LOS) evaluation matrix and performance rating system for pedestrian and bicycle facilities presented by Dixon (1996) can be used to identify the most suitable alternative for managing non-motorized mobility within and around a construction zone.
- ADA (2010). Americans with Disabilities Act. https://www.ada.gov/ ( Last accessed December 31, 2017).
- ADAAG (2002). Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines. http://www.access-board.gov/guidelines-and-standards/buildings-and-sites/about-the-ada-standards/background/adaag#4.5 ( Last accessed December 31, 2017).
- Dixon, L. B. (1996). Bicycle and Pedestrian Level-of-Service Performance Measures and Standards for Congestion Management Systems. Transportation Research Record 1538, TRB, National Research Council, Washington, D.C., USA.
- MUTCD (2009). Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways. U. S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, 1200 New Jersey Ave, SE, Washington, D. C. 20590, USA.
- NCM (2011). National Cycle Manual. National Transport Authority, Dún Scéine, Harcourt Lane, Dublin 2, Ireland.
- PROWAG (2011). Public Right-Of-Way Accessibility Guidelines. https://www.access-board.gov/guidelines-and-standards/streets-sidewalks/public-rights-of-way/proposed-rights-of-way-guidelines (Last accessed December 31, 2017).