Highway Evacuations in Selected Metropolitan Areas: Assessment of Impediments
Planners in the Detroit metropolitan region believe that since the area is not subject to the type of emergencies and disasters that affect other parts of the country the potential for mass evacuations is low. As a result, they do not dedicate many county or local resources to plan and prepare for a mass evacuation. For this reason, Detroit lacks a mass evacuation plan.
Nevertheless, city of Detroit officials reported that a few years ago they developed internal, baseline evacuation plans within each city police district. In downtown Detroit, an area called Eastern Market, sits near multiple expressways. Officials, concerned about a tornado scenario given only 20 minutes notification, started to develop a program to address evacuations in this area. Another scenario involved mass evacuations for a planned special event, particularly the 4th of July fireworks in downtown Detroit that typically includes up to 1 million people concentrated along the river. In that plan, Detroit officials plan for contraflow operations, basically turning every route outbound. Detroit officials noted that historically most evacuations are localized, not "mass"—or larger scale—evacuations. Detroit officials conceded that they must consolidate all of the District-based plans into one plan to assess the plan from a strategic perspective.
Michigan uses three plans as the basis for organizing and conducting mass evacuations. These include the:
Michigan authorities established these plans to manage and control the use of highway systems in a post-nuclear attack or other severe situation. Although it is not called an evacuation plan by name, it provides a framework and the related authorities to move traffic in a severe situation. To prepare for various scenarios, MDOT stated that they have addressed traffic planning for special events, but not for natural disasters or catastrophic events that would cause mass evacuations. During the interview, officials indicated that the mobility issues addressed in consideration of planned events that occur in the downtown Detroit area may be applied to organizing and conducting a mass evacuation triggered by natural or man-made events.
Top Highway Impediments
Top Highway Impediments
United States Department of Transportation - Federal Highway Administration