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Section 3: Design - Traffic

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Overview

A local government (LG) transportation project may include traffic engineering, traffic safety, railroad crossing and signals and traffic management. The TxDOT district traffic operations and project development staff is the primary contact point for the LG on traffic operations projects. The Traffic Operations Division (TRF) is responsible for statewide traffic operations, including traffic safety, traffic signals, intelligent transportation systems, operational engineering and management issues, and railroad signals and crossings.

The authority of the LG to alter the speed limits is addressed in the Texas Transportation Code, §370.033 and §545.354. The LG is required to follow TxDOT’s Procedures for Establishing Speed Zones Manual when altering speed limits on off-system turnpikes.

The following sections contain guidance for the LG to address traffic operations issues and to coordinate with the TxDOT district, which provides monitoring of the LG submittals.

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Category 8 Safety Projects (HSIP and FSP)

General

“Category 8 safety projects” are traffic safety projects with federal and local funds.

  • The Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) is federally funded, and program funds are eligible to cover 90 percent of project construction costs. The remaining 10 percent of project construction costs must be covered by state or local participation. The Texas HSIP is made up of two safety construction programs, the Hazard Elimination (HES) program and the High Risk Rural Roads (HRRR) program.
    • The HES program focuses on construction and operational improvements for locations both on and off the state highway system (excluding interstate highways).
    • The HRRR program focuses on construction and operational improvements on high-risk rural roads. High-risk rural roads are paved roadways functionally classified as rural major or minor collectors, or rural local roads with a fatal and incapacitating injury crash rate above the statewide average for those functional classes of roadways.
  • Federal Railroad Signal Program (FSP) projects include installations or updates to railroad signals and/or signage improvements to highway-rail grade crossings both on and off the state highway system.

TxDOT does not allow the LG to let and manage HSIP and FSP projects. The district will execute an Advance Funding Agreement (AFA) with the LG outlining the financial responsibilities of the LG for HSIP projects not on the state highway system. An AFA is not required on FSP projects.

Federal Requirements

  1. The Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), §1112 – Addresses development and implementation of a strategic highway safety improvement program and plan in each state.

State Requirements

  1. The Category 8 programs are part of the Unified Transportation Program.
  2. 43 TAC §15.56 – Requires projects to be designed in accordance with TxDOT procedures, standards, manuals and guidelines.

Required Practices

In general, TRF selects projects based upon available funding and defined scoring criteria for FSP and HSIP projects and defines the funding and level of involvement for the LG based upon program criteria. The LGPM Guide provides details for the procedures and responsibilities of each party.

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Illumination/Electrical

General

Roadway illumination normally falls into one of several categories: continuous lighting; safety lighting; and bikeway and pedestrian lighting. Illumination may be provided by the LG on eligible roadways where conditions warrant installation. Guidance is contained in TxDOT’s Highway Illumination Manual. The LG may have applicable ordinances that apply to transportation illumination.

Electrical work is covered by TxDOT standards and specifications and the National Electrical Code (NEC). Applicability to all possible situations is outside the scope of the LGPP Manual.

Federal Requirements

  1. 23 CFR 655.603 – Provides that the National Manual on Uniform Traffic Control (MUTCD) is the national standard for all traffic control devices installed on any street, highway or bicycle trail open to public travel. A state MUTCD must be in substantial conformance with the national MUTCD.
  2. MUTCD Section 2A.07-08 – Requires all regulatory, warning and guide signs to be either retroreflective or illuminated to show the same shape and similar color both day and night. Street or highway lighting is not included in this requirement.
  3. There are no federal statutes for general roadway illumination. However, 23 CFR 635.410 – Buy America Requirements applies when furnishing steel light poles. 23 CFR 635.411 – Material or Product Selection does not allow proprietary materials to be used on federal-aid projects.

State Requirements

  1. Texas Occupations Code §1305.003(a) (5)(C), Electricians – Provides that the Texas Electrical Safety and Licensing Act ( Texas Occupations Code Chapter 1305 et seq.) does not apply to highway work.
  2. 43 TAC §§5.59, 15.56, 26.33 and 27.56 – Requires projects to be designed in accordance with TxDOT procedures, standards and guidelines. For regional mobility authority (RMA), toll and pass-through financed projects, preliminary design information must be sent to TxDOT for review and approval when the design is approximately 30 percent complete.
  3. 43 TAC §25.11 – Gives the requirements for financing and installation of continuous lighting and safety lighting systems on the state highway system.
  4. Texas Health and Safety Code, Chapter 425 – Provides standards to be met if state funds are used for the installation or operation of outdoor lighting fixtures. TxDOT must also determine that the purpose of the outdoor lighting fixture on the state highway system cannot be achieved by other methods as a condition of participation with state funds.

Required Practices

The LGPM Guide provides the required practices and LG and TxDOT responsibilities for illumination projects. In general, the LG should follow the TxDOT Highway Illumination Manual and coordinate closely with the TxDOT district. Overhead sign installations should not be illuminated unless supported by an engineering study.

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Intelligent Transportation Systems

General

Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) is the integration of communication and technology systems to improve road traffic conditions, safety and mobility. ITS also provides for the integration and coordination of multiple agencies in jurisdictions within a region to improve total travel networks, not just one facility or service. The LGPM Guide provides additional information on ITS.

Federal Requirements

  1. 23 CFR 940.5 – Requires ITS projects to conform to the national ITS architecture and standards.
  2. 23 CFR 940.11 – Requires all ITS projects funded with highway trust funds to be developed using a systems engineering analysis and to identify what part of the regional ITS architecture is being implemented.

State Requirements

  1. There are no state statutes or executive orders related to ITS, except as to providing distribution of information for Amber/Silver/Blue and Endangered Missing Persons Alerts.

Required Practices

In general, the LG must receive approval from TRF prior to designing and implementing an ITS, as described in the LGPM Guide.

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Pavement Markings and Markers

General

Pavement markings are patterns or shapes set into the surface of, applied upon or attached to the pavement to inform or guide traffic. Typical markings intended to guide traffic include striping, traffic buttons, raised pavement markers and graphics.

Federal Requirements

  1. 23 CFR 655.603 – Provides that the National MUTCD is the national standard for all traffic control devices installed on any street, highway or bicycle trail open to public travel. A state MUTCD may be used if found by FHWA to be in substantial conformance with the national MUTCD. The Texas MUTCD has been found to meet these criteria.

State Requirements

  1. Texas Transportation Code §544.001 – Requires TxDOT to develop a manual and specifications for a uniform system of traffic control devices that correlates with and, to the extent possible, conforms to the system approved by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO). The Texas Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (TMUTCD) is incorporated by Texas Transportation Code §544.001 and shall be recognized as the Texas standard for all traffic control devices installed on any street, highway or bicycle trail open to public travel.
  2. 43 TAC §15.56 – Requires projects to be designed in accordance with TxDOT procedures, standards and guidelines.
  3. 43 TAC §25.1 – Establishes the TMUTCD as the standard for traffic control devices in Texas.

Required Practices

The LGPM Guide lists the required practices the LG and TxDOT must follow for the design of pavement markings.

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Railroad Coordination

General

When projects cross railroad right of way or otherwise affect railroad facilities, pre-design and pre-construction coordination with the railroad is necessary to protect the interests of both the railroad and the entity administering the project. Coordination also involves obtaining railroad approval of the project PS&E by executing an agreement with the railroad and providing mandatory insurance for the railroad. This can be a time-consuming process and should be started early in the project development process. Federal-aid projects require a statement, often referred to as the railroad certification, from TxDOT and the LG confirming the appropriate railroad coordination has taken place. This statement is required for all federal-aid highway construction projects, including projects not involving a railroad.

Federal Requirements

  1. 23 CFR 635.307 – Prior to authorization to advertise for receipt of bids, all railroad work must be so coordinated with the physical construction that no unnecessary delay or cost for the physical construction will occur. Railroad work performed separately from the contract for the physical construction of the project is to be accomplished in accordance with provisions of the applicable federal regulation.
  2. 23 CFR 635.309 – Requires a request for authorization to advertise for the receipt of bids for all design-bid-build projects that includes a statement or certification that either all railroad work has been completed or all necessary arrangements have been made for it to be undertaken and completed as required for proper coordination with the physical construction schedules.
  3. 23 CFR 635.309(p) – Requires the following certifications accompany a request to authorize final design and construction for design-build projects.
    1. Either all railroad work has been completed or all necessary arrangements will be made for the completion of railroad work.
    2. If railroad services are to be included as part of the design-builder’s scope of work, then the request for proposals document must include a statement concerning scope and current status of the required services.
  4. 23 CFR 646.105 – Requires contractors to have public liability and property damage insurance in effect on federally funded projects when working within railroad right of way.
  5. 23 CFR 646.214 – Requires grade crossing improvements to conform to the specified design standards of the railroad company and/or highway authority.
  6. 23 CFR 646.216(d) – Requires a written agreement be executed by the contracting agency and the railroad company for federally funded projects requiring the use of railroad properties or adjustments to railroad facilities.
  7. 23 CFR 646.216(e) – Requires the following conditions be met before authorization for receipt of bids.
    1. The PS&E must be approved.
    2. A proposed agreement between the contracting agency and the railroad has been found to be satisfactory.
    3. There must be adequate provisions for any needed easements, right of way or temporary crossings for construction purposes.
    4. The pertinent portions of the contracting agency-railroad agreement applicable to any protective services required during performance of the work must be included in the project specifications and special provisions.

State Requirements

  1. 43 TAC §15.56 – Requires projects to be designed in accordance with TxDOT procedures, standards and guidelines.
  2. Texas Transportation Code §112.059 – Requires that railroads place and keep that portion of its roadbed and right of way, over or across which any public road may run, in proper condition for the use of the traveling public.

Required Practices

In general, the LG must identify railroad crossings early in the project. The LG is responsible for coordination with the railroad, and TxDOT is a party to projects on the state highway system as described in detail in the LGPM Guide.

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Signing Requirements for Geometric Schematic

General

Signs are traffic control devices used by TxDOT and LGs to provide guidance on streets, highways or bicycle trails. Major guide signs must be included in the geometric schematic for many LG projects. Chapter 4 – Preliminary Engineering and Design includes a section on the development of a geometric schematic. The geometric schematic shows features such as location of interchanges, ramps and the number and arrangement of lanes. It is critical to consider signing requirements at this stage of project development to assure a facility is constructed that can be properly signed and operated.

Federal Requirements

  1. 23 CFR 655.603 – Provides that the National MUTCD is the national standard for all traffic control devices installed on any street, highway or bicycle trail open to public travel. A state MUTCD may be used if found by FHWA to be in substantial conformance with the national MUTCD. The TMUTCD has been found to meet these criteria.

State Requirements

  1. 43 TAC §§5.59, 15.56, 26.33 and 27.56 – Requires projects to be designed in accordance with TxDOT procedures, standards and guidelines. For RMA, toll and pass-through financed projects, preliminary design information must be sent to TxDOT for review and approval when the design is approximately 30 percent complete.
  2. 43 TAC §25.1 – Establishes the TMUTCD as the standard for traffic control devices in Texas.
  3. Texas Transportation Code §544.001 – Requires TxDOT to develop a manual and specifications for a uniform system of traffic-control devices that correlates with and, to the extent possible, conforms to the system approved by AASHTO.
    1. The TMUTCD is incorporated by Texas Transportation Code §544.001 and shall be recognized as the Texas standard for all traffic control devices installed on any street, highway or bicycle trail open to public travel.

Required Practices

The LGPM Guide provides the required practices for the inclusion of signing and other traffic control devices in the geometric schematic developed by the LG and reviewed by TxDOT.

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Regulatory and Construction Speed Zones

General

Speed limits are established to reflect the speed the majority of drivers will be traveling at or below. The TMUTCD is the state standard applicable to all roadways open to public traffic. TMUTCD states “speed zones (other than statutory speed limits) shall only be established on the basis of an engineering study that has been performed in accordance with traffic engineering practices. The engineering study shall include an analysis of the current speed distribution of free-flowing vehicles. The Speed Limit (R2-1) sign shall display the limit established by law, ordinance, regulation, or as adopted by the authorized agency based on the engineering study.”

State law requires speed limits on state highways to be set at the statutory speed established by law, unless a traffic and engineering study show the need for a differing speed limit. Local agencies have the authority to establish speed zones on state highways within the limits of their jurisdiction and for roadways off the state highway system. The process for establishing speed limits on the state highway system, including regulatory speed limits in construction zones, is contained in TxDOT’s Procedures for Establishing Speed Zones.

Federal Requirements

  1. 23 CFR 655.603 – Provides that the National MUTCD is the national standard for all traffic control devices installed on any street, highway or bicycle trail open to public travel. A state MUTCD may be used if found by FHWA to be in substantial conformance with the national MUTCD. The TMUTCD has been found to meet these criteria.

State Requirements

  1. 43 TAC §25.1 – Establishes the TMUTCD as the standard for traffic control devices in Texas.
  2. Texas Transportation Code §544.001 – Requires TxDOT to develop a manual and specifications for a uniform system of traffic-control devices that correlates with and, to the extent possible, conforms to the system approved by AASHTO.
    1. The TMUTCD is incorporated by Texas Transportation Code §544.001 and shall be recognized as the Texas standard for all traffic control devices installed on any street, highway or bicycle trail open to public travel.
    2. TMUTCD Section 2B.13 requires a speed zone be established based on an engineering study made in accordance with traffic engineering practices and established by law, ordinance, regulation or as adopted by the authorized agency.
    3. TMUTCD Section 6C.01.12 states reduced speed limits in construction zones should be used only in the specific portion of the work zone where conditions or restrictive features are present.
  3. Texas Transportation Code, Chapter 545, Subchapter H – Constitutes “basic speed law” in Texas. Establishes “prima facie” speed limits on Texas highways and allows changes if approved by the Texas Transportation Commission and supported by the Procedures for Establishing Speed Zones manual.
  4. Texas Transportation Code §545.354 – Allows a regional tollway authority to alter speed limits on turnpike projects if the Procedures for Establishing Speed Zones manual is followed.
  5. Texas Transportation Code §545.355 – Allows a county to alter speed limits on a county road based on the results of an engineering and traffic investigation.
  6. Texas Transportation Code §545.356 – Allows a municipality to alter speed limits on a highway within the municipality, including a highway on the state highway system, based on the results of an engineering and traffic investigation.
  7. Texas Transportation Code §370.033(a)(12) – Allows a RMA to alter speed limits on transportation projects under its control if the Procedures for Establishing Speed Zones manual is followed.

Required Practices

The LG must follow the TxDOT Procedures for Establishing Speed Zones and coordinate with TxDOT as described in the LGPM Guide.

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Traffic Control Plan

General

The traffic control plan is defined as all documents pertinent to the proposed efficient, effective and safe travel of the public through work zones on a construction project, including the safety of construction workers and inspection personnel. Such documents include plan sheets, general notes, specifications, special specifications, special provisions and quantities. Traffic control plans are an integral part of each construction and maintenance project. Part 6 of the TMUTCD contains criteria for development of traffic control plans. TxDOT policy on work zones is contained in the administrative memorandum issued Nov. 20, 2008, titled “Work Zone Safety and Mobility Guidelines”. This document can be obtained through the local district office from TxDOT’s internal website. Traffic control devices exposed to traffic must meet certain safety criteria to be considered “crash-worthy.” Devices in the current version of TxDOT’s Compliant Work Zone Traffic Control Device list meet these criteria.

Federal Requirements

  1. 23 CFR 630.1010 – Defines a “significant project” as one that, alone or in combination with other concurrent projects nearby, is anticipated “to cause sustained work zone impacts” and sets forth the applicability of project-level procedures to manage work zone impacts.
  2. 23 CFR 630.1012 – Provides guidance and establishes procedures to manage work zone impacts of individual projects.
  3. 23 CFR 630.1106(a) – Requires each state to implement a policy for the systematic consideration and management of work zone impacts on all federally funded projects.
  4. 23 CFR 630.1106(b) – Requires agency processes, procedures and/or guidance be based on consideration of standards and/or guidance contained in the MUTCD and the AASHTO Roadside Design Guide, as well as project characteristics and factors. The strategies and devices to be used may be determined by a project-specific engineering study or determined from agency guidelines defining strategies and approaches to be used based on project and highway characteristics and factors.

State Requirements

  1. 43 TAC §25.1 – Establishes the TMUTCD as the standard for traffic control devices in Texas.
  2. 43 TAC §§5.59, 15.56, 26.33 and 27.56 – Requires projects to be designed in accordance with TxDOT procedures, standards and guidelines. For RMA, toll and pass-through financed projects, preliminary design information must be sent to TxDOT for review and approval when the design is approximately 30 percent complete.
  3. Texas Transportation Code §544.001 – Requires TxDOT to develop a manual and specifications for a uniform system of traffic-control devices that correlates with and, to the extent possible, conforms to the system approved by AASHTO.
    1. The TMUTCD is incorporated by Texas Transportation Code §544.001 and shall be recognized as the Texas standard for all traffic control devices installed on any street, highway, or bicycle trail open to public travel.

Required Practices

In general, the LG must prepare a traffic control plan in coordination with TxDOT as decribed in the LGPM Guide.

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Temporary Traffic Control Devices

General

Federal regulations related to temporary traffic control devices are intended to reduce the likelihood of fatalities and injuries to road users and workers who are exposed to motorized traffic (vehicles using the highway for purposes of travel) while working on federal-aid highway projects.

Federal regulations exist concerning the use and payment of uniformed law enforcement officers, positive protection measures between workers and motorized traffic, and temporary traffic control devices on construction, maintenance and utility work zones. The regulations apply to all federal-aid highway projects, but state agencies are encouraged to adopt these on other types of projects as well. Guidance is also included in the administrative memorandum titled “Work Zone Safety and Mobility Guidelines” dated Nov. 20, 2008. This document can be obtained through the TxDOT district office from TxDOT’s internal website.

The LGPM Guide provides a discussion of the practices associated with the regulations, which require agencies to establish processes, procedures and/or guidance to systematically consider the use of the following:

  1. Positive protection devices to prevent the intrusion of motorized vehicles into the work space and other hazardous areas of the work zone. The use of positive protection devices must be based on an engineering study as described in the LGPM Guide.
  2. Exposure control measures to avoid or minimize worker exposure to motorized traffic and road user exposure to work activities. Examples of exposure control measures are provided in the LGPM Guide.
  3. Uniformed law enforcement and other traffic control measures to reduce work zone crashes. Each agency, in partnership with the FHWA, shall develop a policy addressing the use of uniformed law enforcement on federal-aid highway projects. The policy may consist of processes, procedures and guidance. In general, the need for law enforcement is greatest on projects with high traffic speeds and volumes and where the work zone is expected to result in substantial disruption to or changes in normal traffic flow patterns. In addition, if law enforcement is used, they must be trained as required in 23 CFR 630.1008(d). The LGPM Guide lists specific project conditions that should be examined when determining the need for law enforcement.
  4. Safe exit and entry of work vehicles into and out of the work area from the travel lanes. The agency processes, procedures and guidance should also address safe means for work vehicles and equipment to enter and exit traffic lanes and for the delivery of construction materials to the work space. The guidance should be based on individual project characteristics and factors.
  5. Payment for traffic control features and operations must not be incidental to the contract or included in payment for other items of work not related to traffic control and safety. Separate pay items must be provided for major categories of traffic control devices, safety features and work zone safety activities. Method-based specifications, unit price pay items, lump sum pay items or a combination thereof may be used. Specifications should include provisions to require and enforce compliance with implementation and maintenance of the project transportation management plan and related traffic control items.
  6. Traffic control quality guidelines shall be developed and implemented by each agency to help maintain the quality and adequacy of the temporary traffic control devices for the duration of the project. A level of inspection necessary to provide ongoing compliance with the quality guidelines must be provided.

Federal Requirements

  1. 23 CFR Part 630 Subpart J – Relates to work zone safety and mobility.
  2. 23 CFR Part 630 Subpart K – Relates to bid items for temporary traffic control.
  3. 23 CFR 630.1008(d) – Provides training requirements, both for the design of work zones and the operations, maintenance, enforcement, flaggers, etc.

State Requirements

  1. No comparable statute.

Required Practices

In general, the LG must either adopt TxDOT’s temporary traffic control program or submit an alternate program for approval as decribed in the required practices in the LGPM Guide.

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Traffic Signal Warrants

General

A comprehensive investigation of traffic conditions and characteristics of potential signal locations is necessary to determine the need for signal installations and to collect data for the design and operation of signals. Traffic control signals should not be installed unless the investigation reveals at least one of the warrants contained in the TMUTCD is met. Meeting a warrant(s) is only the first step to justifying a traffic signal. The TMUTCD states engineering judgment is required and all factors should be considered when determining if a traffic signal should be installed. Even if a traffic signal is warranted, the signal does not have to be installed. TxDOT’s procedure for evaluating traffic signals is contained in TxDOT’s Traffic Signals Manual.

Federal Requirements

  1. 23 CFR 655.603 – Provides that the National MUTCD is the national standard for all traffic control devices installed on any street, highway or bicycle trail open to public travel. A state MUTCD may be used if found by FHWA to be in substantial conformance with the national MUTCD. The TMUTCD has been found to meet these criteria.

State Requirements

  1. 43 TAC §15.56 – Requires projects to be designed in accordance with TxDOT manuals, procedures, standards,and guidelines. For RMA, toll and pass-through financed projects, preliminary design information must be sent to TxDOT for review and approval when the design is approximately 30 percent complete
  2. 43 TAC §25.1 – Establishes the TMUTCD as the standard for traffic control devices in Texas.
  3. 43 TAC §25.5 – Establishes traffic signal warrants for state highways.
  4. Texas Transportation Code §544.001 – Requires TxDOT to develop a manual and specifications for a uniform system of traffic-control devices that correlates with and, to the extent possible, conforms to the system approved by AASHTO.
    1. The TMUTCD is incorporated by Texas Transportation Code §544.001 and shall be recognized as the Texas standard for all traffic control devices installed on any street, highway or bicycle trail open to public travel.

Required Practices

The LGPM Guide provides a discussion of the required practices and LG and TxDOT responsibilities related to traffic signal warrants. In general, the LG must meet warrants for traffic signals in accordance with guidelines contained in TxDOT manuals.

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