Occupational Safety and Health Administration

6A. Introduction

During any time the normal function of a roadway is suspended, temporary traffic control planning must provide for continuity of function (movement of traffic, pedestrians, transit operations, and access to property/utilities). The location where the normal function of the roadway is suspended is defined as the work space. The work space is that portion of the roadway closed to traffic and set aside for workers, equipment, and material. Sometimes there may be several work spaces within the project limits. This can be confusing to drivers because the work spaces may be separated by several miles. Each work space should be adequately signed to inform drivers of what to expect.

Effective temporary traffic control enhances traffic safety and efficiency, regardless of whether street construction, maintenance, utility work, or roadway incidents are taking place in the work space. Effective temporary traffic control must provide for the safety of workers, road users, and pedestrians. At the same time, it must provide for the efficient completion of whatever activity suspended normal use of the roadway.

No one set of signs or other traffic control devices can typically satisfy all conditions for a given project. At the same time, defining detailed standards that would be adequate to cover all applications is simply not practical. Part VI displays several diagrams that depict common applications of standard temporary traffic control devices. The traffic control selected for each situation should be based on type of highway, traffic conditions, duration of operation, physical constraints, and the nearness of the work space to traffic.

Traffic control plans and devices may be adopted by the authority of a public body or official having jurisdiction for guiding traffic. The plans and devices should follow the principles set forth in this Part but may deviate from the typical drawings to allow for conditions and requirements of a particular site or jurisdiction.

The criteria of this part are intended to apply to both rural and urban areas. Rural highways are normally characterized by lower volumes, higher speeds, fewer turning conflicts, and fewer conflicts with pedestrians. Urban street traffic is typically characterized by relatively low speeds, wide ranges in traffic volume, narrower roadway lanes, frequent intersections, significant pedestrian traffic, and more roadside obstacles.

It is essential that concern for traffic safety, worker safety and efficiency of traffic movement form an integral element of every temporary traffic control zone, from planning through completion of work activity. Simultaneously, the control selected must permit efficient maintenance/construction of roadways and roadway appurtenances.

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