“Congestion is one of the single largest threats to our economic prosperity and way of life. Whether it takes the form of trucks stalled in traffic, cargo stuck at overwhelmed seaports, or airplanes circling over crowded airports, congestion is costing America an estimated $200 billion a year”.   Norman Y. Mineta, U.S. Secretary of Transportation.

Since the late 90’s transportation agencies around the country have seen the benefits of using Intelligent Work Zones (IWZ).  And in 2006, The United States Department of Transportation implemented the ” National Strategy to Reduce Congestion on Americas Transportation Network“.  This plan clearly outlines the need to promote operational and technological improvements. Especially targeting work zones congestion. Achieving this requires implementing the use of computers, electronics, and communication equipment to collect, process and determine an action to keep traffic flowing safely in and around a work zone.

Intelligent Work Zone technology can be applied in work zones in need of:

Americas transportation system remains one of the countries grandest achievements, and an essential part of the economy. However the roadway system is deteriorating and continues to face major hurtles. Consulting the United States Department of Transportation:

  • Safety— In 2009, there were 5.5 million crashes and 2.2 million injuries. In 2010, the number of fatalities dropped by 3 percent to approximately 3.85 million, but still accounted for 32,788 deaths, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA).
  • Mobility—Not taking into account inflation, the cost of congestion in urban areas rose from $24 billion in 1982 to $115 billion in 2009, according to the Texas Transportation Institute. U.S. highway users waste 4.8 billion hours a year stuck in traffic—nearly one full work week (or vacation week) for every urban traveler.
  • Environment—According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, Americans lose nearly 3.7 billion hours and 2.3 billion gallons of fuel every year sitting in traffic.  About 24% of this wasted time and fuel occurred in work zones.

The conclusion drawn from the National Strategy to reduce congestion on America’s Transportation Network reads as follows; “Reducing congestion is about making the right investments in our transportation capital stock.”  And later goes on to state “The Federal Government’s most important role is to establish mechanisms to ensure that the right investments get made. In order to sustain economic growth and job creation, we must be open to new approaches to building, financing, and managing our transportation infrastructure.”

Since the plan was released, major advancements in technology with the implementation of Intelligent Work Zone, congestion has been on the decline.   The “ITS Strategic Plan 2015-2019” released by the U.S. Department of Transportation outlines just that.  This plan provides a framework around which the ITS and other department agencies will conduct research, development, and adopt activities to achieve the programs desired outcomes and goals.  Below you can read the plan they have implemented.



  1. Minnesota department of Transportation; Minnesota IWZ toolbox,  http://www.dot.state.mn.us/trafficeng/workzone/iwz/MN-IWZToolbox.pdf
  2. U.S. Department of Transportation, National Strategy to Reduce Congestion on America’s Transportation Network, Washington, DC: May 2006. Report: isddc.dot.gov/OLPFiles/OST/012988.pdf
  3. Federal Highway Administration, Focus on Congestion Relief Webpage, Congestion Reduction Toolbox: Better Work Zones.
  4. Jim Barbaresso, Sustave Cordahi, Dominie Garcia, Christoper Hill, Alex Jendzejec, Karissa Wright; USDOT’s Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) ITS Strategic Plan 2015-2019, www.its.dot.gov/strategicplan/