Establishing Temporary Work Zone

Safety is a major issue and the key reason to establish a Temporary Traffic Control Work Zone. Creating a safe Temporary Traffic control work zone is dependent upon many things. All of these should be considered when establishing a Temporary Traffic Control Work Zone.

Preplan how and where you will place your traffic control area and consider the following issues by asking yourself the following questions:

  • Speed Limit and Traveling Speed of the Established Work Zone Area? Although the speed limit is posted, most vehicles travel 5 to 15 MPH above the posted speed limit which is the traveling speed.
  • Types of Vehicles that Travel Roadway-cars, public transportation, pedestrians, bicyclists, horse or animal drawn vehicles?
  • Stopping Distance required for the various types of vehicles traveling on the roadway? This needs to be factored into the length and buffer areas of your work zone to protect those working with in the work zone.
  • Hours when work would be prohibited by the governing agency, or when traffic volumes make it impractical to safely and effectively perform the work? For instance, morning and evening rush hours.
  • Type of terrain prior to and through the work zone? This helps determine how far in advance you need to place warning signs and devices so that anyone using the work zones has adequate time to react and navigate the changes to traffic patterns, flaggers etc.
  • Are there side streets or institutions located in the work zone? If so, side streets will require warning devices to alert motorists to closures, detours or delays. If institutions (schools or medical facilities) are located in the work zone or in the approach to the work zone you need to determine the following: how the users will gain entry and access to the facilities and how you will prepare for emergency vehicle entry and exiting.
  • Will the work need to be performed during daylight or nighttime hours? For nighttime work, you will need sufficient lighting for flaggers, workers and advanced traffic control devices.
  • Duration of the project? One day, months, or years.
  • Will the Roadway be reopened each day when work is not being performed or will sections of the roadway need to be closed for long periods of time?
  • How will your personnel plan for an accident or incident in your work zone? And, how will you get emergency vehicles and personnel into the site in the event an accident or incident does occur.
  • Will you need portable signage and channelizers which can be picked up daily or will you need long term barriers?

Knowledge and Training

  • Make sure you have trained personnel in charge of the work zone setup – A traffic control manager is best
  • Make sure you established all areas of a temporary work zone a.Advanced Warning Area – area that informs and warns vehicle and pedestrians of the upcoming work zone or incident area
  • Transition Area – area where vehicles and pedestrians are directed out of their normal travel path, by using flaggers, channelizing devices or detours
  • Activity Work Zone – area where the work is taking place and actually encompasses three subsections
  • Buffer Zone Longitudinal – zone prior to the work area and allows adequate space for vehicles to stop (should they enter the activity area) before striking equipment or workers – Nothing should be allowed or placed in this area at anytime.
  • Buffer Zone Lateral – area along the channelizing devices and between the vehicle traffic which no worker or equipment should enter. It is a safety zone
  • Traffic Zone or Space – travel area for the vehicle or pedestrian traffic
  • Work Zone – area where the work will be performed and equipment will be used. Only working equipment and personnel should be in this area. Nonessential equipment and personnel should be removed from this area when not in use.
  • Termination Area – area where the vehicles and or pedestrians return or are redirected to their normal travel path
  • Make sure devices are in like new condition and approved traffic control devices and devices that meet at least the minimum retroreflectivity standards are used.
  • Make sure personnel are wearing appropriate High Visibility Safety Apparel for the appropriate daylight or nighttime conditions of the work zone
  • Learn how and what is the appropriate way to take down or remove the work zone when you are terminating the work zone at the end-of-the-day or end-of-the-project.