A new software package that the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration helped develop can assist highway engineers in estimating traffic delays caused by work zones and the subsequent cost in time to drivers.
"Reducing delays in highway work zones is another way to improve mobility, which is one of the department's strategic goals," said FHWA Administrator Mary Peters. "This program can give engineers a more accurate estimation of delays and queues and provide them with a planning tool that will help reduce the time motorists are delayed by work-zone activity."
The software, called QuickZone, runs on a personal computer, furnishing the information in spreadsheet format. The system prompts the user as to just what data it needs to perform the necessary calculations. It can be used to compare the traffic impacts for work-zone mitigation strategies and estimate the costs to motorists in delays and potential backups associated with the different strategies or scenarios.
For example, QuickZone enables road owners and contractors to compare the effects of doing highway work at night instead of the day or of diverting the traffic to one road versus another road at various stages of construction. These effects can be estimated for periods as short as one day or for the entire life of the construction project.
Four states--Maryland, North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin--are currently evaluating the software. Maryland is actually employing it on some of their work-zone sites.