Knowledge CentreTechnical Resources SearchConference PapersDevelopment of an Unplanned Road Closure Protocol for the New Brunswick Provincial Highway System

Development of an Unplanned Road Closure Protocol for the New Brunswick Provincial Highway System


A formalized road closure protocol is an important operational directive used by provincial departments of transportation to address closures to traffic for severe weather conditions and other unplanned events. It ensures coordinated and effective action by the response agencies to control a required highway closure and ensure a safe, successful outcome.
Recent winter events demonstrate the need for highway closure protocols. Major bridge damage or destruction, fire, flooding, earthquakes, landslides, snow avalanche, hazardous material spills or cargo and/or vehicle cleanup are also examples of events where emergency highway closing protocols can be applied. In response, the New Brunswick Department of Transportation and Infrastructure (NBDTI) undertook a study to develop a provincial highway closure protocol for unplanned events. This paper presents findings from this study that involved a review of NBDTI’s current practices, stakeholder consultations, a jurisdictional scan and preparation of a protocol and procedures document.
Both the stakeholder consultations and jurisdictional scan were particularly important. The consultations identified needs, current challenges and potential solutions with those stakeholders impacted by unplanned road closures. The jurisdictional scan focused on current practices, policies, and procedures used by other provincial departments of transportation across Canada, including those with multiple highway maintenance service providers. The scan captured current practices with respect to the scope protocol/procedures, approval process, closure actions, re-opening processes, stakeholder roles and formalized documentation. These findings will be of interest to many organizations, especially with the advent of social media to communicate information to road users. The study culminated in the preparation of a provincial protocol and procedures for unplanned highway closures, in consultation with NBDTI. The protocol included defining NBDTI and stakeholder agency roles and the processes/procedures for making the decision to close a highway, implementing the closure, communicating the closure and reopening the highway.

Conference Paper Details

Session title:
Road Safety Management in Temporary Situations
Cunningham, J.
Robichaud, K.
Landers, S.
Road safety