The design of a road construction project staging should balance user impacts with construction efficiency. User impacts are of particular concern when construction is on a key corridor or serving an urban area. At the extreme, closing the entire road would allow for full construction flexibility, however the benefit of reduced construction duration may not outweigh the user impacts. Previous examples of construction with full closure have often occurred after an unplanned incident that forces the road to be completely shutdown, thus allowing unfettered reconstruction. A planned closure can be a politically charged decision and the advantages over other potential construction alternatives must be justified. This paper refers to the general approach to construction as a construction alternative. Once a construction alternative is selected, there are many aspects of routing, information, and mitigation strategies that are also involved in implementing the construction staging strategy.
This presentation focuses on the evaluation of high-level construction alternatives to reduce unnecessary detailed mitigation planning and lessen the burden on the local planning agency. Construction alternative screening is often done on a limited time frame to initiate the project once it has been approved and funding secured. Ideally, one would want an operational simulation model to evaluate signals, turning movements, and lane closures. These models require a more detailed level of data specificity. Operational models are less readily updated as the construction alternative evolves. Time constraints and staging changes/updates require the modeling platform to be easily updated and executed. A regional travel demand model meets these requirements as most Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) have a configured and calibrated travel demand model that can be easily modified to represent high level construction alternative stages. While regional travel demand models are typically used to evaluate the user impacts after a project has been developed, this presentation shows that they can also be used to evaluate the user impacts during construction.