Developing a Research-Grade Iowa Work Zone Database

Project Details









Iowa Department of Transportation

Principal Investigator
Anuj Sharma

Research Scientist and Leader, REACTOR

Co-Principal Investigator
Jennifer Shane

Director, CMAT

Co-Principal Investigator
Skylar Knickerbocker

Research Engineer, REACTOR

About the research

The difficulty of obtaining detailed information about current and historical work zone activities is a key limiting factor for proactive work zone management. Although project plans and daily construction logs provide general information about the location and timing of planned and completed work activities, the actual conditions in the field often change very rapidly—sometimes several times each day.

The Federal Work Zone Safety & Mobility Rule requires states to “continually pursue improvement of work zone safety and mobility by analyzing work zone crash and operational data from multiple projects to improve State processes and procedures.” Nevertheless, important details as such as the location and extent of lane closures are generally not tracked in real time. As a result, it can be very difficult to quantify relationships between work activities and traffic flow rates, queuing, delay, and road user safety.

Recently, Iowa DOT made a commitment to develop a Lane Closure Permitting System (LCPS). The development of LCPS will be an important step toward more proactive work zone management. The concurrent development of a research-grade electronic work zone database (WZDB) can augment the LCPS by providing additional details about work activities and other factors that influence traffic flow in work zones.

The goals of this study are:

  • Design and develop a work zone activity monitoring system without creating an undue burden on Iowa DOT’s construction engineers and inspectors. This will require utilizing existing sensor streams such as cameras to identify the start and end of lane closures, type of activities etc.
  • Design a database that can save other streams of data relevant to work zones.
  • Compare multiple data streams to evaluate the consistency of work zone datasets.