The Work Zone Traffic Analysis system began as an Excel spreadsheet that allowed ODOT engineers to estimate delays. With the reports the tool generated, they could determine how to stage a project and when to schedule lane closures to minimize impacts to traffic.
To handle the hundreds of bridges in the OTIA III bridge program, mobility engineers, computer programmers and geographic information system staff devised a custom Web-based and GIS-enabled version of the tool. The new application combined historical data to create project work zone traffic scenarios in a matter of minutes rather than hours. Mobility staff members could identify periods of high- and low-traffic flow and predict safe times to close lanes or shoulders during roadway construction. The result was minimal delays for motorists and freight haulers traveling on Oregon’s major corridors.
The mobility team that developed the tool won a 2007 Team Excellence Award from the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.
Throughout ODOT, the WZTA tool is now used for short-term, non-emergency repairs to guardrails; permitting for power, fiber optic or sewer lines; and temporary traffic signaling changes on holiday weekends. The data is so specific, engineers can track the traffic for Thanksgiving Day and guesstimate when everybody is sitting down to dinner by how empty the roads become. Hour by hour, they can track when Interstate 5 heats up because of a football game or where the passes over the Cascades are becoming crowded on Memorial Day weekend.