Sharring experiences in urban infrastructure delivery.

Traffic Demand Management at Construction Sites

By: Tom Davis Category: Project Communication, Traffic Congestion, Traffic Demand Management

This post, and at least a few in the future, will address “short” term issues and actions taken related to traffic demand management. In these cases we addressed a “short-term” situation (one month to 2 years) rather than the long-term scenarios that are the focus of urban planners.

Downtown Streets.jpgTraffic demand management is crucial for major highway work where thousands of drivers have to find another route for an extended time. For some the management technique is warning signs a few days before the closure and  a press release. Then roll out the barricades and “give them a few days” and the drivers will find another route.

For others, myself included, “management” means providing information about the lane, street or highway closure plus alternative routes in advance so drivers can “know before they go”. I have had the opportunity to be in the middle of dealing with traffic demand management during the major street reconstruction in downtown Houston from 1998 to 2007 and during that time the rebuilding of elevated Interstate 45 along the west perimeter of downtown and Spur 527’s full closure and re-routing 40,000 vehicles per day that commute on that route to downtown.

To communicate construction issues that impact traffic I have maintained for almost 10 years, issue weekly eBlasts and occasional Special Updates like two sent this past week. To us it was obvious that most drivers will avoid congestion if they know how so we needed to help communicate where the problem would be and offer ideas for how to avoid getting caught there. A few years ago I heard the term “traffic demand management” and realized that is what we were doing.

As I write this post Houston has a major multi-lane closure of Interstate 10 that affects 128,000 drivers. Two special emails have been broadcast in the past few days to communicate the source of information of alternative routes related to Texas Department of Transportation’s  (TXDOT) rebuilding a section of Interstate 10 in the heart of downtown Houston. The source is the web site The rehab work has required the reduction of four lanes to one lane. Today’s closures are the first of three phases over an 18 month period. The other phases will close lanes coming from other directions and have different impact on different drivers. Many drivers must make long term changes in driving habits to mitigate the lost time, increased air pollution for idling cars and general bad PR for downtown and Houston.

Communicating traffic issues and alternate routes requires a lot of map making and posting to web sites. In the past the lines on the maps had to be related to the text and all that could change weekly. For this current event I expanded the Google Map service I had already been using for closures in the downtown street grid. Look at the map on the home page of, click the green and red lines that show alternate routes and the closure. I included the info points/bubbles, that have the same info as the lines, as I worry some viewers may not read the note above the map and click the lines for details. Hopefully they will intuitively click the info bubble.

I will add at least two more posts about TDM related to long-term construction jobs so check back or add this site to your RSS reader.


0 Comments to “Traffic Demand Management at Construction Sites”

  1. nice article on Traffic Demand Management at Construction Sites


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