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Planning Guidance for the Installation and Use of Technology Devices for Transportation Operations and Maintenance

ENTERPRISE Transportation Pooled Fund Study


DMS Guideline 4 - Special Events

Purpose: To provide parking or alternate route information about special events or major venues to drivers in order to reduce congestion and delays due to unnecessary "circling the block" or non-participating drivers being caught in traffic.

The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) contains the national standards governing all traffic control devices. DMS (described as Changeable Message Signs in the MUTCD) are one traffic control device covered by the MUTCD (MUTCD 2009 Edition Chapter 2L. Changeable Message Signs. In MUTCD Section 2L:

Section 2L.01 addresses the description of Changeable Message Signs;

Section 2L.02 addresses applications of Changeable Message Signs;

Section 2L.03 addresses legibility and visibility of Changeable Message Signs;

Section 2L.04 addresses design characteristics of Changeable Message Signs;

Section 2L.05 addresses message length and information of Changeable Message Signs:

Section 2L.06 addresses installation of permanent Changeable Message Signs.

The planning guidelines are intended to be an additional tool to assist agencies in the decision process of selecting when and where to deploy DMS technologies, based up the experiences of agencies that have previously deployed DMS.

Engineering judgment should be used to asses potential implications that may result from installation of DMS. This planning guidance does not mandate the use of DMS.

The guidelines do not distinguish between types of DMS (portable, overhead, roadside).  Rather the intent of the guidelines are to contribute to the understanding of the need for some type of DMS.  Detailed design would contribute to the selection of the specific DMS type.


  Device should be considered if:  

1. If the location contains a venue that houses ticketed events (typically with rapid and tight arrival patterns for a specified start time).


2a. If the event venue typically houses at least two weekday (M-F) ticketed event per week (including seasonal sporting events that only occur during the season).


2b. If the event venue typically houses at least 10 events per year attracting 30,000 visitors or more.


3. If the setting of the venue is such that mainline traffic (not attending the event) is impacted by the conditions.


4. If there are alternate parking or traffic options that could be displayed on signs to direct visitors to more preferred options.

Guideline Advice:
Placement of DMS signs should consider the intent of each sign. For example, further upstream signs are more effective at helping non-visitors to the venue avoid traffic congestion while signs closer to the venue are effective for directing drivers to open capacity.

Alternate parking options should be considered. For example, at large rural venues alternate parking options may not be available.

Partial Guideline Criteria:
If either #1, and either #2a or #2b above are met, the guideline is considered ‘Partially Met’. If one or more additional purposes are partially met at this location for this device, the device should be considered.

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