The safe and efficient flow of traffic through work zones is a major concern to transportation officials, industry, the public, businesses, and commercial motor carriers. The following illustrates the programs some highway agencies are developing:
U.S. Federal Highway Administration (FHWA):
- The FHWA has developed the National Highway Work Zone Safety Program (NHWZSP) to reduce the fatalities and injurious crashes in work zones, and to enhance traffic operation and safety within work zones. The four elements of the NHWZSP are standardization, compliance, evaluation, and implementation. In addition, the FHWA conducted a study entitled "Meeting the Customer's Needs for Mobility and Safety During Construction and Maintenance Operations," which involved interviews with FHWA and State personnel in 26 States. You can read about the best practices/policies for minimizing delay and enhancing safety during construction and maintenance operations at the FHWA's Work Zone Safety Best Practices site. The study's recommendations will be the foundation for future FHWA actions and programs with its partners to improve the safety and efficiency of work zones.
- The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) - the publication that governs how road managers nationwide install and maintain the signs, markings, and signals along the Nation's roadways - is being totally revised, reformatted, and readied for its premier in 2001. Until publication, please visit the new, expanded web site. You can review proposed changes in the MUTCD Millennium Edition, examine amendments to the 1988 edition, and follow the format and rewrite process.
Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE), Washington Weekly, January 21, 2000:
Link to the Roads and Highways, Road Safety knowledge base
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Maintenance by Contract
Contracting for specific items of maintenance work, such as the resealing, overlay or reconstruction of a specific length of pavement are widely used and there is considerable experience of this. However, particularly for road maintenance works, there is often a need for contracts to cover a wider scope of work. For example: Algeria, Belgium, Brazil’s DNER, British Columbia, Chile, Kenya, Malaysia and Pakistan use standard contract documents which may be different for major and minor maintenance works. Routine and periodic maintenance operations are sometimes contracted separately. This practice is used mostly in Chile, Kenya and Pakistan, and is applied frequently in other countries to more complex periodic activities, such as pavement or bridge repair work. In Algeria and Brazil, maintenance contracts for specific road sections combine execution of routine and minor periodic maintenance.
Some countries, including Canada (British Columbia), the United Kingdom and Malaysia have experience of including all maintenance activities on specific routes, or within entire geographic areas, in comprehensive maintenance contracts combining both periodic and routine works. Learn more about the experience of British Columbia in privatizing its road and bridge maintenance function. Contractors additionally are responsible for managing the maintenance and operations programmes, including performing routine patrols and detailed inspections to identify needs, setting priorities, scheduling the work, and public relations. The contracts used by British Columbia now have a five-year duration, whilst the United Kingdom is using three-year contracts. Malaysia uses contracts of two-year duration. Contractors in these countries indicated that they consider five years is appropriate to provide them with sufficient incentive to invest in costly, specialized equipment.
To address internal inefficiency and accountability issues, a number of Latin American countries have, over the last decade, moved decisively and successfully from force-account (direct labor) to contract maintenance. There has also been considerable progress in the region to transfer to the private sector, through concessions, the responsibility of improving, maintaining, and operating high-traffic volume roads, the cost of which is recovered from tolls. Among the most advanced countries in this respect are Argentina, Brazil and Chile. More recently, some countries, particularly Argentina, have switched from the traditional quantities and unit price-based short-term maintenance contracts to long-term performance-type or results-based contracts. The new approach encompasses either routine maintenance activities alone, or integrated contracts involving both the rehabilitation and routine maintenance of road networks (such as the Contrato de Recuperación y Mantenimiento (CREMA) system in Argentina). A paper, "Areawide Performance-Based Rehabilitation and Maintenance Contracts for Low-Volume Roads," presents a framework for extending the CREMA concept to cover both the paving and future maintenance of low-volume roads.
Cutting the cost of road maintenance and improving road conditions are the main reasons why several Latin American countries have started to look for new ways of contracting out road maintenance. With technical assistance from the International Road Federation and German Aid, Colombia, Brazil, Guatemala, Peru and Uruguay have initiated so called Performance Specified Road Maintenance Contracts on a pilot basis. In addition, Argentina and Chile have let several such contracts recently. In this scheme the Road Authority serves as the owner, but out-sources both the management and production of the maintenance work to a single contractor. Most of these contracts have been operating for more than a year and cover routine maintenance and, in some cases, periodic maintenance and road rehabilitation as well. Extension of the road network, road surfaces and conditions, and the time period vary in each pilot project and will provide a wide basis for evaluation and improvements.
This article provides an overview of the different pilot projects, giving special attention to the performance specifications and control procedures, how these contracts have been implemented, and what lessons can be learned so far. "Performance Specified Road Maintenance Contracts - The Road to the Future: The Latin American Perspective."
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Monitoring, Implementation and Evaluation of Roads
Construction, especially with respect to the contracting and bidding for civil works, requires the effective evaluation and supervision of contractors and their bids. Without this ability at tender, marginal or unacceptable bidders can distort the bidding process by excessive underbidding for contracts or future inability to complete. At the point of construction, poor contractors can raise owner’s supervision and staffing costs substantially. Management of the road network requires different information, at different levels of the decision-making process, for example, for planning, for programming, for design, and for implementation. The data to be collected by an inspection system, and where, and how it should be collected, depend largely on the use of the data. Senior managers in road administrations may also be required to make decisions about the choice of computerised road management systems that are to be implemented within their organizations. The consequences of such decisions can be very costly, not only in terms of the cost of initial system procurement, but also because of the on-going costs of system management and data collection. The implementation of systems can have far-reaching effects on all aspects of the operation of the road administration. Hence, it is important that managers are aware of the need for an effective approach to system implementation, and of the pitfalls of making inappropriate decisions in this area.
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