Night Work vs. Day Work - Balancing Safety, Operations, and Constructability for Short-Term Operations on Two Lane Roads

Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) inserts Limitations of Operations (LOO) requirements into all contracts that limit when maintenance and construction activities can occur. These LOO are typically primarily based on the need to minimize operational impacts to drivers. Most Districts have established standardized LOO for their Interstates and limited access highways. However, for other facilities and particularly for short-term operations such as paving schedules which require extensive flagging on two-lane roads, LOO are often established on a project-by-project basis, which creates variability from District to District and even within the same District. This inconsistency could in part arise from different levels of “pain tolerance” – the degree of queuing/operational impacts that a District is willing to tolerate to allow the work to get done in a reasonable length of time. There are numerous reasons to consider differing LOO requirements, including queuing and operational delays for daytime work zones, citizen complaints (about daytime or nighttime work zones), increased risks of rear-end crashes with long queues, increased risks of severe crashes in nighttime work zones, longer work durations and increased constructability difficulties with nighttime work resulting in increased construction costs, worker comfort and perception of safety, impacts on work that must be completed within certain temperature ranges, ADT, land use, functional class of road, type of work zone, state and local ordinances, presence of schools, and special events. These factors, and differences in the ways they are prioritized across districts, results in significant variation between and within districts regarding the level of LOO restrictiveness.