Emergency Transportation Operations

Highway Evacuations in Selected Metropolitan Areas: Assessment of Impediments


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Quality Assurance Statement

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) provides high-quality information to serve Government, industry, and the public in a manner that promotes public understanding. Standards and policies are used to ensure and maximize the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of its information. FHWA periodically reviews quality issues and adjusts its programs and processes to ensure continuous quality improvement.

Technical Report Documentation Page

1. Report No.


2. Government Accession No.

3. Recipient's Catalog No.

4. Title and Subtitle

Highway Evacuations in Selected Metropolitan Areas: Assessment of Impediments

5. Report Date

April 2010

6. Performing Organization Code


7. Author(s)

Kimberly C. Vásconez and Mark Kehrli

8. Performing Organization Report No.

9. Performing Organization Name and Address

Federal Highway Administration, Office of Transportation Operations, Washington, DC 20590

10. Work Unit No. (TRAIS)


11. Contract or Grant No.


12. Sponsoring Agency Name and Address

Emergency Transportation Operations
Office of Transportation Operations
Federal Highway Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590

13. Type of Report and Period Covered

Technical Report

14. Sponsoring Agency Code


15. Supplementary Notes

The FHWA recognizes the interviewers (Sandra Jackson, Tim Lane, Ray Murphy, Paul Olson, Nathaniel Price, Laurel J. Radow, and Chung Tran) and the numerous State and local officials who gave their expertise and time to aid in producing this report.

16. Abstract

Almost 5 years after hurricanes Katrina and Rita battered Louisiana and Texas, respectively, public officials remain focused on the Nation's ability to safely evacuate large numbers of people. As a part of the Fiscal Year 2010 U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) appropriations (Public Law 111-117), the U.S. Congress requested the DOT, in cooperation with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), to:

  • assess mass evacuation plans for the country's high-threat, high-density areas and identify and prioritize deficiencies on those routes that could impede evacuations and
  • conduct an analysis of how national highway system (NHS) projects under construction west of the National Capital Region (NCR) could increase the NCR's evacuation capacity and provide a detailed plan to accelerate such projects.

The following information addresses both assessments and involves a broad view of what local authorities in 26 metropolitan areas view as the greatest impediments of their NHS routes in supporting a mass evacuation within their region, as well as a section dedicated to assessing construction and options for accelerating work along NHS routes west of the NCR that would facilitate the movement of NCR evacuees from danger as necessary.

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) led the multiagency effort to gather and consolidate information. The planning, interview and review teams included representatives of various FHWA offices, the Office of the Secretary of Transportation, the DHS Office of Infrastructure Protection, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) offices of Response and of the National Capital Region Coordination (NCRC). Inquiries on the report should be directed to the authors: Jeff Lindley, Associate Administrator, FHWA Office of Operations; Mark Kehrli, Director, FHWA Office of Transportation Operations; or Kimberly C. Vásconez, Team Leader, FHWA Emergency Transportation Operations.

17. Key Words

Evacuations plans, best practices, National Capital Region, traffic control, quick clearance, training, communications

18. Distribution Statement

No restrictions.

19. Security Classification (of this report)


20. Security Classification (of this page)


21. No of Pages


22. Price


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