Highway Evacuations in Selected Metropolitan Areas: Assessment of Impediments
Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota
Officials developed the Metro Evacuation Traffic Management Plan in 2005. Respondents noted that this plan serves more as a traffic layout/plan, or only one piece of the puzzle when discussing evacuations. The Metro Evacuation Traffic Management Plan covers multiple jurisdictions and exceeds the boundaries of the cities of Minneapolis and St Paul. The development of this plan included the nine counties within the Twin Cities Metropolitan Area (Hennepin, Dakota, Ramsey, Washington, Scott, Anoka, Wright, Carver, and Chisago).
The Director of the Office of Emergency Management in St. Paul concurred that the 2005 plan submitted for this review is only a traffic study that all agreed served as a good starting point for the traffic management aspect of a comprehensive regional evacuation plan. He noted that moving forward proved difficult for three reasons:
Officials recently renewed efforts to restart efforts to revise the Minneapolis-St. Paul Metropolitan Regional Evacuation Plan, which is the transportation component mentioned above. Updating this plan is a combined effort by the counties, cities and Minnesota DOT (MnDOT). Respondents noted that the new version should incorporate a traffic routing tool produced by the University of Minnesota to aid in evacuation efforts. The MnDOT would manage the tool and the plan.
One interviewee noted that evacuation planning to date has taken a local/sub-regional perspective focused on high-risk areas or areas with large people concentrations. These plans focus on evacuating several blocks, not the whole metro region. One of the respondents observed that if a mass evacuation was needed, the NHS routes would quickly fill not because of impediments, but because the NHS alone cannot serve the role by itself and must be supported by the overall transportation system.
A respondent from the city of Minneapolis noted that they have a tremendous amount of evacuation experience. He relayed a local-level scenario, stating that the city conducted a mass evacuation and a shelter-in-place operation for "one of our Hawkins Chemical fires." One of the first actions taken by the fire department was to pull situation maps that were laminated based on "box-runs" — a system set up in the late 1890s that's still in place today. For this particular incident, box 419A, this means 4th district, 19th ward which is a footprint within the city. The city used these maps as a template to go door to door to notify the public of their order to evacuate or shelter-in-place. In conjunction with that, he noted that the city is working with the MnDOT on maps and strategies.
It appears that evacuation planning is moving forward in the region. Minneapolis-St. Paul and Minnesota officials provided several late 2009 and early 2010 products for this study that demonstrate forward movement in the construction of a Regional Evacuation Plan. The products indicate that the new plan will include more than transportation route plans.
Top Highway Impediments
Top Highway Impediments
United States Department of Transportation - Federal Highway Administration