According to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), US work zones on freeways account for nearly 24% of nonrecurring freeway delays and 10% of overall congestion. Historically, there have been limited scalable datasets to investigate the specific causes of congestion due to work zones or to improve work zone planning processes to characterize the impact of work zone congestion. In recent years, third-party data vendors have provided scalable speed data from Global Positioning System (GPS) devices and cell phones which can be used to characterize mobility on all roadways. Each work zone has unique characteristics and varying mobility impacts which are predicted during the planning and design phases, but can realistically be quite different from what is ultimately experienced by the traveling public. This paper uses these datasets to introduce a scalable Work Zone Mobility Audit (WZMA) template. Additionally, the paper uses metrics developed for individual work zones to characterize the impact of more than 250 work zones varying in length and duration from Southeast Michigan. The authors make recommendations to work zone engineers on useful data to collect for improving the WZMA. As more systematic work zone data are collected, improved analytical assessment techniques, such as machine learning processes, can be used to identify the factors that will predict future work zone impacts. The paper concludes by demonstrating two machine learning algorithms, Random Forest and XGBoost, which show historical speed variation is a critical component when predicting the mobility impact of work zones.
Publisher: Transportation Research Board
Publication Date: February 15, 2019
Full Text URL: Link to URL
Publication Types: Books, Reports, Papers, and Research Articles
Topics: Cell Phones; Data Collection; Global Positioning System; Impact Analysis; Machine learning; Mobility; Traffic Congestion; Work Zones