This paper explores the efficiency of a novel merging system based on a cooperative late merge strategy (CLMS) to mitigate the capacity reduction in work zones due to lane closure. Cooperative late merge strategies in connected vehicles (CV) and connected and autonomous vehicles (CAV) environments are formulated to enhance throughput by reducing gaps and increasing the synchronized speed in the work zone. The researchers propose decentralized and centralized systems based on vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication. The decentralized CLMS incorporates a modified lane-changing model to reflect the cooperative feature under the CV environment. The centralized CLMS is developed to further optimize the work zone throughput based on gap reduction and speed harmonization features enabled by CAV. The results prove that the decentralized CLMS outperforms other systems by increasing throughput as well as reducing delay and queue length. The centralized CLMS demonstrated substantial improvements compared to other systems. The simulation results prove that the decentralized CLMS improves capacity by 17% and the centralized CLMS by 45%, when compared to a traditional work zone system.