Issue 6 - OTIM Dispatch

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OTIM Dispatch

March 2022 | Issue 06

Traffic Incident Management in Work Zones and Incident Response Impacts

Orange barrel season is just around the corner

Spring is on the doorstep and that means plenty of construction projects on roads of all sizes throughout Ohio. This includes rebuilding I-70 through Zanesville in east-central Ohio, the ongoing rebuild of I-70-71 through downtown Columbus, repairing the Brent Spence Bridge in Cincinnati, I-75 reconstruction work in Toledo and a bridge replacement on I-480 in Cleveland, to name a few.

Road construction can significantly impact the management of traffic incidents, so it’s important to be proactive and stay informed so there are no surprises the next time your agency responds to an incident.

Stop and think about the roads you drive every day in your jurisdiction or first due response area. It’s probably a safe assumption that most of us are on autopilot when it comes to roadway incident responses. The route from your station (Point A) to the incident scene (Point B) is mapped out in your brain because you’ve done it many, many times before. But what happens if that response route changes and your agency didn’t get the memo?

Work zones can be a game changer when they close roads on primary response routes, close or restrict ramps, or eliminate shoulders used to bypass congestion. And don’t forget that getting to the scene is only half the battle! Once you’re there, you may encounter challenges that you may not be equipped to handle which adds additional complications and delays. This is where a Transportation Management Plan (TMP) can help save the day!


What is a TMP?

A TMP is a planning tool that identifies work zone impacts and provides coordination among a broad spectrum of agencies to ensure that incidents are managed as efficiently and safely as possible. It lays out a roadmap of coordinated transportation management strategies and describes how they will be used to successfully manage work zone impacts.

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) requires a TMP for projects using federal-aid highway funds, but it should be a consideration for any work zone and can be scaled to meet the needs of the project. Many factors play into the need for and size of a TMP including the length and duration of the project as well as the number of travel lanes affected.

Traffic Incident Management is an essential component of a TMP. Other elements include temporary traffic control measures and devices, public information and outreach, and transportation operations. Engaging with the TMP process is a chance for responders to review plans, ask questions, express concerns and talk with contractors and engineers to get a clear understanding of roles, responsibilities and expectations during work zone incidents.

Most importantly, a TMP is a living document that needs care and feeding so that everyone is on the same page as work zones progress through their various phases.

Responders should be proactive in seeking out information and engaging with the agencies responsible for all road work projects, at the earliest possible time. Responders do due diligence by knowing day to day and hour to hour how work might affect access to, work at, and access from any work zone.

In Ohio, responders have many resources to get information, training and contact information for road construction projects in their area and OTIM is ready to help you make the connections.

Get a leg up on learning about major state road projects in your backyard on the OTIM website – Other helpful resources include:

For more information, contact OTIM Training Facilitator Mike McNeill at 614-387-1265 or


National Work Zone Awareness Week, April 11–15

Work Zone Awareness Week

Another way to get out the word about the importance of TIM and responder safety is by participating in events during National Work Zone Awareness Week. This year’s observance will be April 11-15. Learn more and download free resources at


Regional Meetings – Round Deux! OTIM Pledge Focus and more

The OTIM “road show” has been all over the state over the fall and winter months. Visits have reached hundreds of responders, support staff and highway personnel. At those meetings the team listened to attendees and their experiences with OTIM.

The OTIM team has heard concerns and comments on the OTIM Guidelines document. They also have updated attendees on recent changes to the OTIM program such as the newsletter and website, and reminded them about the resources already available to the public and responders through the OTIM and ODOT websites.

“I have been working with responder teams for more than 10 years now, and the level of interest in improving response and responder safety is as high in Ohio now as I have ever seen it,” said Chuck Yorks of Gannett Fleming, an OTIM team member.

The purposes of the second round of meetings were to update attendees on the first rounds of meetings, update them on changes that have happened over the past six months and gain consensus on the need for and accuracy of the Guidelines document. That document has now been shared with hundreds of responders, who offered changes in language or emphasis, asked for some additions and/or clarifications.

The resulting comments are being collated and final changes made so that revised Guidelines can be made available to fire and rescue, public works, public safety communicators, emergency management officials, municipalities, law enforcement, towing and recovery professionals, emergency medical practitioners, coroners, hazmat teams, utilities, constructors and transportation agencies and providers.

In all areas of the state, there was interest in more meetings and moving forward to create an inclusive, multi-disciplinary, multi-jurisdictional approach to Traffic Incident Management in local areas, with an eye toward regional collaboration.

Leaders have stepped up in many areas to help keep responders organized for discussions. A schedule of another round of meetings, which could focus on how to maintain conversations more regularly to meet local needs, will be announced soon.


The OTIM Pledge

OTIM Pledge
OTIM Pledge Signing


A feature of recent regional meetings has been to engage attendees and ask for a commitment in  working toward a common goal. That commitment has a name … the OTIM Pledge.

The OTIM Pledge is simple and direct. It reads, “I agree to work together with others to make the roadway safer for emergency responders and the traveling public.”

The pledge was presented at each meeting, and those who signed the pledge were promised their names would be included as “co-authors” of the OTIM Guidelines. Their signatures are also intended to be included in a large charter style statement.

If the goal of OTIM is to institutionalize and instill a mindset of safety and mobility into each engaged responder community, the pledge is an outward sign of individual commitment toward that larger goal.

Ohio Township Association Presentation

In addition to hosting regional meetings around the state, a member of the OTIM team gave an overview presentation on Traffic Incident Management at the Ohio Township Association’s annual meeting on January 28.

Next up, OTIM will be a featured presentation at the Ohio State Coroners Association Education Conference in early May!


Responder ProfileMike Sherron

This issue of the OTIM Dispatch features a profile of Michael Sherron, Pickaway County EMA, Circleville.

1. How long have you been engaged in response?

I became a firefighter/EMT in 1994 in West Chester, Butler County, Ohio. Then, I became an OTIM instructor around 2010 while working for the State of Ohio. I have been teaching the class to anyone who will have me in! I was able to do a brief stint with AutoBase, the company that operates the Freeway Safety Patrol unit for ODOT in Columbus. That may have been one of the best jobs I’ve ever done. It was really great to be able to help folks get on their way and provide a measure of protection when their vehicle was disabled or involved in a crash.

Currently I work for Pickaway County Emergency Management Agency (EMA). As an EMA, we work to raise awareness of the topic. We have a vested interest because of the traffic management issues related to hazardous materials incidents, flooding, general emergency response,etc. Additionally, we’ve been having informal discussions with the Ohio State Highway Patrol Post and some of the local police and fire departments to coordinate more closely on managing traffic incidents. We may even stand up a TIM committee in the county later this year.

2. What is it that drives you to be safe on scene?

The sheer number of highway workers, public safety and towing and recovery workers struck annually is ridiculous. The better we manage traffic, the more of these personnel that get to go home to their families at the end of their shifts.

3. What’s the best advice you ever got about TIM?

“Keep your head on a swivel!”  Pay attention and never lose situational awareness. Bad things can happen in a fraction of a second.

4. What’s your best advice to someone new to TIM work?

Study the techniques and use them on every roadway response. Be flexible in your approach. Apparatus brakes can be set and released – adapt your tactics as the scene evolves just like you do for every other incident you respond to. The quicker you can coordinate to clear a lane of travel, the safer it is for everyone – responders, involved motorists and the motoring public.

5. Tell us about your family…

I have one 11-year old daughter and I aim to come home to see her every day!

Thanks Mike! And if you have a suggestion for a responder to interview, send us a note,


OTIM Steering Committee Meeting Highlights

The OTIM Steering Committee met on January 26, with a mix of new and long-time members attending. The meeting opened with a brief welcome and introductions, and a video featuring Ohio Governor Mike DeWine talking about the importance of roadway safety.

The agenda focused on updates to the OTIM program since its revitalization began in 2020 — regional meetings across the state, launching a quarterly e-newsletter, a SWOT (SPELL OUT) of the program to give OTIM leaders direction and feedback for the program, updating and revamping the OTIM website, and more.

Attendees, OTIM staff and consultants discussed and shared ideas for sustaining OTIM and the Steering Committee, especially since it is primarily a local, grassroots program and the need for engagement at this level. Other topics the group discussed included the continued need to educate all drivers, especially new ones, about the “Slow Down, Move Over” law, increasing engagement with Emergency Management Agencies (EMAs) around the state and several focus topics. These included:

  • Adding Slow Down Move Over to Ohio House Bill 283 which would update the state’s texting and driving laws
  • Mandate TIM training for towing companies
  • Develop and share hazardous materials and spills response protocols, lane closures and scene
In the Spotlight – Training Round Up

The Talking TIM webinar series, brought to you by FHWA, is a forum for TIM champions at all levels of experience to exchange information about current practices, programs and technologies. Each month, the FHWA TIM Program Team features content that highlights successful programs, identifies best practices and showcases technology that advances the profession.

Talking TIM typically takes place the fourth Wednesday of each month from 1:30 PM–3 PM. Click here to view the upcoming Talking TIM topics and register for the live webinar.

The next session will be on Wednesday, March 23. Recordings from previous webinars can be found below.

Additional Training Opportunity Focusing on Traffic Signals

In addition to Talking TIM, another upcoming training session hosted by the National Operations Center of Excellence (NOCoE) will focus on Applying Transportation Asset Management to Traffic Signal Assets on Tuesday, March 22.


Trip Lite

Ohio TRIP Lite for Work Zones Program Unveiled

As readers may know, Ohio’s TRIP – Towing & Recovery Incentive Program – is a key component of the state’s Traffic Incident Management (TIM) program. Prequalified towing and recovery programs can receive a cash incentive for the timely removal of large vehicle incidents from Ohio’s interstates and freeways.

To clear lanes of traffic more quickly after a crash in a work zone, there is now TRIP Lite. However, unlike the statewide TRIP Program for commercial vehicle recoveries, this program is only for Interstate work zones that have been selected by ODOT. This began as a pilot in 2021 with just 4 zones. As with TRIP, ODOT’s Traffic Management Center (TMC) declares an incident a TRIP Lite event and dispatches a TRIP-qualified towing company. Any towing company that is TRIP certified can respond to a TRIP Lite incident

The general criteria for a TRIP Lite incident include:

  • Two-vehicle crash, with at least one disabled vehicle

  • Any vehicle blocking a lane due to a flat tire, running out of gas or other situations deemed appropriate by the TMC

  • A vehicle blocking one or more lanes

The towing company requirements to be paid are: arriving within 20 minutes and clearing in 45 minutes. The incentive payments are:

  • $400 for crash recoveries

  • $200 for all other tows

Keep in mind, the following incidents are not eligible for TRIP Lite:

  • Incidents involving large commercial vehicles, these are covered under the normal TRIP Program

  • HAZMAT incidents

  • Multi-vehicle crashes with two or more disabled vehicles

Struck by the Statistics

Even one crash is too many for Ohio’s roadway workers and responders. There were 914 crashes involving responders in 2021. In 2022, to date, there have been 136 crashes where a responder vehicle or worker was struck. This includes ambulance, fire, police, public utility, construction equipment, snow removal and towing.

Crash Overview 2021–2022 logo

Know Before You Go!

For more detailed traffic information, and to get personalized traffic alerts for your commute, download the OHGO app or visit