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Safely Implementing Rolling Roadblocks for Short-term Highway Construction, Maintenance, and Utility

When safely implemented, rolling roadblocks are a highly effective traffic management technique for temporarily slowing or completely stopping traffic upstream of short-term road work activities.

What is a Rolling Roadblock

A rolling roadblock, also known as a temporary road closure, rolling block, pacing operation, or traffic pacing, is a common highway traffic control technique used to temporarily slow or stop traffic upstream of construction, maintenance, and utility work activities requiring a short-term full closure of the roadway.

Transportation agencies around the country are actively utilizing rolling roadblocks for a variety of road work activities such as:

  • Bridge construction and/or replacements.

  • Placing or removing overhead lights or sign structures.

  • Overhead utility work.

  • Blasting for rock excavation or debris removal.

Rolling roadblocks allow for faster completion of road work activities by allowing workers full access on and above a roadway, and the opportunity for a safe environment by completely removing vehicles that would normally be in close proximity to workers.

Safely Implementing Rolling Roadblocks

While a rolling roadblock is a highly effective traffic control technique, their use can pose safety hazards to the traveling public if not implemented safely. As a best practice, transportation agencies are encouraged to have policies and procedures in place for the safe use of rolling roadblocks. Best practices for safely implementing rolling roadblocks include:

  • Developing an emergency plan for managing traffic should unforeseen circumstances occur.

  • Conducting a planning meeting prior to the operation with all stakeholders, including law enforcement, utility and construction personnel, and other emergency response agencies.

  • Conducting a final meeting among stakeholders before the rolling roadblock is executed to ensure all requirements have been implemented.

  • Issuing press releases to radio/television stations and newspapers, and sharing plans on the agency's website and social media sites, and with third-party data providers

  • Advising the public in advance as to when the rolling roadblock will be performed, including using:

  • Portable changeable message signs (PCMS) to display appropriate messages to the public at least a week in advance of the roadblock.

  • PCMS on the day of roadblock to alert users that the operation will be happening that day, including hours during which the roadblocks will occur.

  • Any existing permanent changeable message signs (CMS) within the activity area for public notification.

  • Utilizing advance warning signs and queue warning systems to alert traffic to the downstream presence of a slow or stopped traffic condition.

Example State Policies for Safely Implementing Rolling Roadblocks