Development of a Baseline Statewide Traffic Incident Management Plan

Traffic incident management involves the systematic use of human and mechanical processes for: (1) quickly detecting, verifying, and clearing temporary obstructions on roadways; (2) providing timely, accurate information about obstructions to the traveling public; (3) exercising proper and safe on-scene management of personnel and equipment to restore normal traffic flow as efficiently and safely as possible; (4) providing multi-agency, multi-disciplinary frameworks for planning, conducting, and evaluating events that significantly impact the transportation system. Examples of common highway traffic incidents include: (1) vehicle disablements (2) crashes (3) debris on road (4) cargo spills (5) bridge collapses (6) hazardous material spills (7) industrial accidents (8) emergency road work (9) severe weather events (10) natural disasters (11) wildfires (12) human-caused emergencies (13) incidents within work zones Two traffic incident management workshops held in May 2005 and a July 2007 Traffic Incident Management Self-Assessment completed by the South Dakota Department of Transportation (SDDOT) and the South Dakota Highway Patrol showed that traffic incident response in South Dakota is largely informal. Incidents tend to be handled on a case-by-case basis in accordance with informal arrangements made between SDDOT and local response organizations. The defined responsibilities and level of authority of SDDOT and other response agents are sometimes ambiguous, and incidents are not consistently fed to SDDOT to be posted to 511, traveler information web pages, or dynamic message signs. The state¡¦s geography, which includes vast, sparsely populated areas, also poses a challenge to effective traffic incident management. The lack of a comprehensive traffic incident management plan limits the effectiveness of incident response on state highways as well as SDDOT's ability to meet its statutory responsibility to maintain safe travel. Research is needed to develop a plan that enables SDDOT to provide traffic incident management consistent with the state¡¦s needs. Research Objectives: (Describe what products or knowledge is to be gained from the proposed work. As a group, the objectives should thoroughly address the issues raised in the problem statement.)) 1) Develop a baseline traffic incident management plan that identifies organizational roles and responsibilities, defines incidents and response strategies, 2) Describe and quantify the resources necessary to execute and sustain the baseline traffic management plan. Research Tasks: (Describe the activities needed to accomplish the entire set of defined objectives.) (1) Meet with the project¡¦s technical panel to review and refine the project scope and work plan. (2) Through a review of available documentation and interviews with select officials, make a preliminary assessment of SDDOT's traffic incident management responsibilities, existing capabilities, and technical infrastructure and institutional resources available to support traffic incident management. (3) In collaboration with the project¡¦s technical panel, develop a plan for conducting initial stakeholder meetings at two locations in South Dakota. (4) Conduct two meetings involving public and private stakeholders to secure input regarding traffic incident management capabilities, needs, and opportunities in South Dakota. (5) Summarize and analyze input received from the stakeholder meetings to identify key issues that should be addressed in a statewide baseline traffic incident management plan. (6) Develop for review and comment by the project¡¦s technical panel a draft statewide baseline traffic incident management plan proposing policies, functions, institutional roles and responsibilities, and resources necessary to establish and sustain effective traffic incident management for South Dakota¡¦s state highway system. (7) Revise the draft traffic incident management plan in accordance with comments received from the project¡¦s technical panel. (8) Secure comments from stakeholders on the revised draft traffic incident management plan through at least one additional stakeholder meeting and invited comments. (9) Evaluate and describe the potential impact of enhanced traffic incident management on South Dakota¡¦s Statewide Regional ITS Architecture and its plans to establish a statewide traffic management center. (10) In accordance with the Guidelines for Performing Research for the South Dakota Department of Transportation, prepare a final report summarizing the research methodology, findings, conclusions, and recommendations. (11) Make an executive presentation to the South Dakota Department of Transportation's Research Review Board at the conclusion of the project.