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RULES AND REGULATIONS

Title 67--TRANSPORTATION

DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

[67 PA. CODE CH. 203]

Work Zone Traffic Control

[26 Pa.B. 3130]

   The Department of Transportation (Department), Bureau of Highway Safety and Traffic Engineering, by this order adopts an amendment to § 203.83 (relating to arrow panels).

   The Department plans to make this amendment effective upon publication without notice of proposed rulemaking. Notice of proposed rulemaking has been omitted under the authority contained in section 204(3) of the act of July 31, 1968 (P. L. 769, No. 240) (45 P. S. § 1204(3)) (CDL). The Department, for good cause, finds that the procedures specified in sections 201 and 202 of the CDL (45 P. S. §§ 1201 and 1202), are, in the circumstances, impracticable, unnecessary and contrary to the public interest for the following reasons:

   1.  The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways (MUTCD), as approved by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), is the National standard for traffic control devices on all highways open to public travel. Under 75 Pa.C.S. § 6121 (relating to uniform system of traffic-control devices), the Department is required to devise a uniform system of traffic control devices which conforms, as nearly as possible, to this standard. The FHWA, at 60 FR 18520, on April 11, 1995, amended the MUTCD. This amendment affects the caution mode display on arrow panels used in construction and maintenance operations. The Department must revise its regulation to conform to this new provision.

   2.  This change must be in place prior to the beginning of the 1996 highway construction and maintenance season or as soon as possible thereafter since it allows the use of a horizontal pattern of a straight line or bar when an arrow panel is placed in the caution mode. Currently, the regulation requires the caution mode to consist of four lamps arranged in a rectangle commonly known as four-corners. The Department owns approximately 500 arrow panels, of these, only 15 are capable of displaying the four-corners pattern. Further, it is estimated that there are several hundred arrow panels owned by municipalities, utilities and private contractors which are not capable of displaying the four-corners pattern. In conformance with the regulation, arrow panels which cannot display the four-corners pattern must be banned from use in applications where the caution mode is required. Other devices can be substituted for arrow panels, however, the Department believes that in many situations, when performing work on the shoulder or during moving operations, arrow panels are the most effective means of alerting drivers. Prohibiting the use of arrow panels in applications where a caution mode is required would be detrimental to the safety of motorists and highway workers.

   3.  The time and expense of converting arrow panels to display the four-corners pattern, or purchasing new panels with this capability cannot be justified since the FHWA is now allowing the use of the bar pattern.

   4.  Accordingly, since this amendment is extremely high priority to the Department in meeting Federal standards and in promoting roadway safety in construction areas, it is appropriate for the Department to proceed in the manner described in this Preamble.

Purpose of this Chapter

   The purpose of this chapter is to provide the required basic principles and guidelines for the control of traffic approaching and within construction, maintenance and permit/utility work zones on highways within this Commonwealth. These guidelines satisfy the requirements of 75 Pa.C.S. § 6123 (relating to erection of traffic-control devices while working), and are intended to provide the means by which traffic movement through work zones is made safer and more efficient and to improve workers' safety.

Purpose of this Amendment

   The purpose of this amendment is to bring the Department's rules on work zone traffic control into compliance with the latest amendment to the MUTCD, as approved by the FHWA as the National standard for traffic control devices on all highways open to public travel. Under 75 Pa.C.S. § 6121, the Department will establish a uniform system of traffic control devices consistent with 75 Pa.C.S. (relating to the Vehicle Code) and shall conform and correlate its system, so far as possible, with the system set forth in the most recent edition of the MUTCD. Adherence to the Federal standards also helps assure the continuation of funding for Federally-aided highway construction projects.

   At 24 Pa.B. 1363 (March 12, 1994), the Department amended Chapter 203 (relating to work zone traffic control). Many of the amendments adopted in this final rulemaking were occasioned by changes in the MUTCD, 1988 Edition, Revision 3, as approved by the FHWA.

   The FHWA, at 58 FR 65084, on December 10, 1993, amended the MUTCD by adopting a total revision of Part VI, ''Traffic Controls for Streets and Highway Construction, Maintenance, Utility, and Emergency Operations.'' Part VI sets forth basic principles and prescribes standards for temporary traffic control zone operations on streets and highways in the United States.

   One of the amendments in the FHWA's final adoption of December 10, 1993, involved changes to the arrow panel display. Arrow panels are electrically operated signs containing a matrix of lamps which are used in highway construction and maintenance activities to display a pulsating arrow or sequential chevron to alert drivers at long distance that a travel lane is closed and to instruct them to merge into the open lane.

   The Department's Arrow Panel Specifications permit the use of arrow panels which contain either 15 or 20 lamps, and when operations are performed on the shoulder of a highway or during moving operations on a two-lane, two-way highway where a lane change is not required, the panel is placed in a caution mode. Previously, for 15 lamp arrow panels, this was stipulated as four or more pulsating lamps arranged in a horizontal pattern of a straight line or bar that did not indicate a direction.

   The FHWA amendments at 58 FR 65084 amended arrow panels to indicate that the caution mode consist of four lamps arranged in a rectangular pattern, commonly known as four-corners. This amendment, as well as the other FHWA amendments of December 10, 1993, to the MUTCD, had an effective date of January 10, 1994.

   The Department, in anticipation of the previously stated MUTCD change to arrow panels, commenced a rulemaking culminating in the final adoption of amendment to § 203.83, at 24 Pa.B. 1363. The amendments to § 203.83, as well as the other changes made to Chapter 203, had an effective date of April 1, 1994. The Department also modified its specifications to reflect these changes.

   On April 6, 1994, subsequent to the amendment of § 203.83, the Department was informed by the FHWA regional administrator that the FHWA would not insist that the states comply with its January 10, 1994, effective date for arrow panel amendments to the MUTCD, but would permit the states to have 2 years from the date of adoption of its amendments to comply with the same. Thus, the new compliance or effective date was December 10, 1995.

   To allow the Department, municipalities, utilities and private contractors time to convert their arrow panels to the new four-corners caution display, the Department by publication of a notice at 25 Pa.B. 1287 (April 8, 1995), amended the effective date of § 203.83 from April 1, 1994, to December 10, 1995, thus permitting the display of the bar caution mode until December 10, 1995. After that date, all arrow panels were mandated to display the four-corners pattern when used in the caution mode.

   Subsequent to the amendment of § 203.83, the FHWA, at 60 FR 18520, on April 11, 1995, amended the MUTCD. One of the amendments involved changes to the arrow panel display. The FHWA learned that making the electrical modifications needed to alter arrow displays which currently use the horizontal pattern of a straight line or bar would cause an undue financial burden on many public agencies, therefore, the FHWA rescinded its ban and will allow the use of the horizontal pattern of a straight line or bar caution display as an option to the four-corners display. The Department, at that time, did not immediately propose amending § 203.83 to permit the use of the bar caution display since the Department, as part of its process to consolidate and simplify its regulations, intended to adopt by reference the entire MUTCD and use it as the standard for the control traffic within this Commonwealth. This effort has been delayed, and it is apparent that it will not be accomplished until 1997; therefore § 203.8 must now be amended to allow the use of the bar caution display during the upcoming construction season.

   Consequently, in compliance with the changes to the MUTCD, the Department is amending § 203.83(a)(2)(iv) to permit the use of the horizontal pattern of a straight line or bar caution display as an option to the four-corners caution display.

Persons and Entities Affected

   This amendment will affect the Department, its officials and employes, other Commonwealth agencies which hire or cause to hire private contractors to perform work on public highways, local governments, utility companies and private contractors that perform construction on public highways.

Fiscal Impact

   The Department anticipates that the Commonwealth will save $415,000, which is the estimated cost of converting the Department's arrow panels to the four-corners display.

   It is not possible to determine the cost savings to local governments, utilities or private contractors since the Department does not keep a record of arrow panel ownership; however, the cost of converting one arrow panel is approximately $850.

Regulatory Review

   Under section 5(f) of the Regulatory Review Act (71 P. S. § 745.5(f)), the Department submitted a copy of this amendment with proposed rulemaking omitted on May 7, 1996, to the Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC) and to the Chairpersons of the House and Senate Transportation Committees. On the same date, this amendment was submitted to the Office of Attorney General for review and approval under the Commonwealth Attorneys Act (71 P. S. §§ 732-101--732-506). In accordance with section 5(c) of the Regulatory Review Act, this amendment was deemed approved by the Committees on May 28, 1996, and was approved by IRRC on June 6, 1996.

   In addition to the final amendment, the Committees were provided with a copy of a detailed Regulatory Analysis Form prepared by the agency in compliance with Executive Order 1982-2, ''Improving Government Regulations.'' A copy of this material is available to the public upon request.

   In preparing this final-form amendment, the Department has considered the comments received from IRRC, the Committees and the public.

Sunset Provisions

   The Department is not establishing a sunset date for this regulation since this regulation is needed to administer provisions required under the Vehicle Code.

Contact Person

   The contact person is Richard J. Sesny, P.E., Manager, Regulations and Traffic Control Section, Traffic Engineering and Operations Division, Bureau of Highway Safety and Traffic Engineering, Post Office Box 2047, Room 215 Transportation and Safety Building, Harrisburg, PA 17105-2047, (717) 783-6080.

Authority

   The amendment is adopted under the authority contained in sections 6103, 6109(a)(15), 6121 and 6123 of the Vehicle Code. These provisions, respectively, authorize the Department to promulgate regulations to implement the Vehicle Code; regulate and temporally prohibit traffic on streets closed or restricted for construction, maintenance or special events; require the Department to publish a manual for a uniform system of traffic control devices which is consistent with the Vehicle Code and which conforms, as nearly as possible, to the most recent addition of the MUTCD as approved by the FHWA; and authorize any person working on or near the roadway to erect traffic control devices for the maintenance and protection of traffic.

Findings

   The Department finds that:

   (1)  Public notice of intention to adopt the amendment has been omitted under section 204(3) of the CDL and the regulation promulgated thereunder at 1 Pa. Code § 7.4.

   (2)  The procedures specified in sections 201 and 202 of the CDL are, in the circumstances, impracticable, unnecessary and contrary to the public interest. The procedures specified are impracticable since this amendment permitting the use of the straight line or bar arrow panel caution mode is needed before the commencement of the 1996 highway construction season to facilitate roadway safety in work zones and cannot be accomplished before the start of the season if rulemaking with comments is attempted. The Department regulation in § 203.83(a)(2)(iv), requires the caution mode to consist of four lamps arranged in a rectangle commonly known as four-corners. The four-corners mode was adopted by the Department to comply with the FHWA and the standard delineated in the MUTCD. The FHWA, however, in April of 1995, amended the MUTCD to permit the bar arrow panel in the caution mode, as well as the four-corners, because of the undue financial burden that would be imposed on State and local governments by strict insistence upon the use only of the four-corners. Accordingly, it is unnecessary for the Department to maintain through its regulations that only the four-corners can be employed in work zones since the motivation for the initial amendment to four-corners, the MUTCD, has been amended to permit the bar arrow panel. Further, it is unnecessary to submit this amendment to rulemaking at this time because of the costs which State and local governments must absorb for implementation of the four-corners, and because there is no increase in risk to traffic in construction zones by using the bar caution display. Failure to immediately adopt this amendment would also be contrary to the public interest because the Department estimates that it will have to expend $415,000 to convert the Department's arrow panels to the four-corners display and that local municipalities, utilities and private contractors would have to spend approximately $850 to convert each individual panel. The time and expense of converting arrow panels to the four-corners pattern, or purchasing new panels with this capability cannot be justified since the FHWA is now allowing the use of the bar pattern.

   (3)  The adoption of the amendment, in the manner provided in this order, is necessary and appropriate for the administration and enforcement of the authorizing statutes.

Order

   The Department, acting under the authorizing statutes, orders that:

   (a)  The regulations of the Department, 67 Pa. Code Chapter 203, are amended by amending § 203.83 to read as set forth in Annex A.

   (b)  The Secretary of the Department shall submit this order and Annex A to the Office of Attorney General and the Office of General Counsel for approval as to legality, as required by law.

   (c)  The Secretary of the Department shall certify this order and Annex A, and deposit them with the Legislative Reference Bureau as required by law.

   (d)  This order shall take effect upon publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.

BRADLEY L. MALLORY,   
Secretary

   (Editor's Note:  For the text of the order of the Independent Regulatory Review Commission relating to this document, see 26 Pa.B. 2958 (June 22, 1996).)

   Fiscal Note: 18-339. No fiscal impact; (8) recommends adoption.

Annex A

TITLE 67.  TRANSPORTATION

PART I.  DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Subpart A.  VEHICLE CODE PROVISIONS

ARTICLE VIII.  ADMINISTRATION AND ENFORCEMENT

CHAPTER 203.  WORK ZONE TRAFFIC CONTROL

Subchapter F.  LIGHTING DEVICES

§ 203.83.  Arrow panels.

   (a)  Design of arrow panels.

   (1)  Arrow panels shall be approved by the Department and listed in Publication 35 which is incorporated by reference--see § 203.6 (relating to availability of Department publications).

   (2)  At a minimum, each arrow shall be capable of displaying the following message modes:

   (i)  Left flashing arrow or left sequential chevron.

   (ii)  Right flashing arrow or right sequential chevron.

   (iii)  Simultaneous left and right flashing arrows.

   (iv)  A caution mode, consisting of four lamps arranged in a rectangular pattern, or horizontal pattern of four or more lamps arranged in a straight line or ''bar,'' that will not indicate a direction.

   (3)  Arrow panels shall have an automatic dimming circuit that is actuated by a photocell at a light level of approximately 5 footcandles to provide a minimum of 50% dimming from the rated lamp voltage.

   (b)  Application of arrow panels.

   (1)  The application of arrow panels shall comply with the typical figures of this chapter. Normally, arrow panels may be used for lane closures on multilane roadways, at median crossovers, at locations where traffic must make an abrupt change in direction, and at other locations where traffic is required to divert from its normal travel path. Where more than one lane is closed, each lane to be closed should generally have its own device.

   (2)  When an arrow panel is used but drivers are not required to change lanes, shift laterally, change direction or turn, the caution mode of the arrow panel shall be displayed.

   (3)  Arrow panels should generally be located as shown on the typical figures of this chapter. The location of arrow panels should be field-adjusted to optimize visibility. The geometrics and conditions at each site where an arrow panel is to be used should be studied to determine the best point to begin the transition or taper and the proper orientation of the panel. For stationary lane closures, the arrow panel should usually be placed on the shoulder at the start of the taper or upstream of the start of the taper. The arrow panel may be placed in the closed lane behind the taper, especially where the shoulder is not of sufficient width to accommodate the arrow panel.

   (4)  When an arrow panel is required for a long-term operation, it shall be a minimum size of 8 feet wide by 4 feet high. When an arrow panel is required for a short-term operation, it shall be a minimum size of 6 feet wide by 3 feet high when used on a highway with a normal speed limit of 40 mph or more, and 4 feet wide by 2 feet high when used on a highway with a normal speed limit less than 40 mph. On some moving operations with a caravan of work vehicles, more than one arrow panel is often used successively within the same closed lane. The minimum sizes in this paragraph only apply for the first arrow panel that a driver would encounter when approaching the operation from the rear. Other successive panels within the same closed lane may be of a smaller size.

   (5)  As noted on some of the typical figures of this chapter, a Temporary Arrow Sign (G40-1) may sometimes be used in lieu of an arrow panel for short-term operations. The standard size G40-1 Sign shall be 8 feet wide by 4 feet high, except that a 6-foot wide by 3-foot high size may be used when the sign is mounted on a pickup truck or similar size vehicle, or on a Type III barricade. A Striped Panel Sign (G40-2) shall be placed beneath Temporary Arrow Signs that are mounted on a vehicle. The G40-2 Sign shall be the same size as the G40-1 Sign with which it is being used.

[Pa.B. Doc. No. 96-1090. Filed for public inspection July 5, 1996, 9:00 a.m.]



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