January 15


I attended a luncheon yesterday where John Maczko, St. Paul's city engineer (he rose up through the traffic engineering division), gave a recap of this past summer's Republican National Convention.  He touched on all of the detour planning and signal re-timing efforts that went into a third of downtown St. Paul being shutdown.  Six lessons I took away from John's presentation for any Public Works folks who may be involved with a future national convention:

  1. Push your way to a seat at the table.  Secret Service and Police Agencies are running the show and they are not inclined to be inclusive. 
  2. Have clearly defined point people.  Everyone needs to answer to one person.  Hooligans may impersonate police officers, so the public works folks at the event may need to confirm authorization.
  3. Have dump trucks, loaders, and portable changeable message signs at the ready to be deployed for changing conditions.  The unexpected will happen.
  4. Get as many cameras deployed as possible so you can monitor what is happening.
  5. Develop a detailed traffic management plan and think through contingency plans.  Peace officers and engineers have very different personalities.  Engineers are used to planning and officers are used to reacting.  The peace officers aren't going to push you to plan, but you need to be ready.
  6. You are going to train a certain subset of your public works employees to use gas masks, deal with protesters blocking streets with cars, etc.  Use them.  If you run into a situation where you don't have enough personnel, live with it.  DO NOT deploy untrained people because the security situation is critical.  You are better off being short handed than sending "lambs out to slaughter."
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Mike Spack

My mission is to help traffic engineers, transportation planners, and other transportation professionals improve our world.

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