Emergency Transportation Operations

Highway Evacuations in Selected Metropolitan Areas: Assessment of Impediments

Phoenix, Arizona

##14-Most Congested
#12-Population (4,282,000)
INRIX® National Traffic Scorecard 2009

map of Phoenix, Arizona

The Plan

The most current plans were provided for the Phoenix metropolitan area, including:

  • State of Arizona Mass Evacuation and Reception Plan
  • Maricopa County Emergency Evacuation Strategy Plan (July 2004)
  • Maricopa County Emergency Evacuation Strategy Plan - Phase II (Dec 2007)

All three are integrated into the State EMA's evacuation plans. It has been agreed upon by participating jurisdictions that the State plan will serve as a model plan for the design and implementation of the overall evacuation strategy. The plans are reviewed, evaluated and updated annually, as required by the Arizona State EMA. The reviews are directed at the overall strategic and tactical value of the plan as well as progress toward integrating rural evacuation strategies into the overall State plan.

A unique approach or design of this plan is that it adopts a statewide evacuation and reception strategy. The plan incorporates the plans for the two largest counties, Pima and Maricopa, and serves as a model plan for rural jurisdictions currently working on evacuation/reception strategies. Additionally, this plan establishes a corridor coalition that supports strategies outside State boundaries. A featured aspect of the plan outlines stress points specifically for reception protocols. For example, Yuma County is identified as a primary reception area based on past evacuation experiences, primarily involving southern California. Transportation infrastructure capabilities and necessary support services/impediments have been identified.

Top Highway Impediments

Top Highway Impediments

  • Communication Capabilities
  • Community Outreach & Education Program
  • Rural Evacuation Route Signing & Information (Public Outreach) Strategy
  • Mass Evacuation Regional Command & Control Center
  • Evacuation Route Signing

The most significant impediments along NHS routes that may impact effective large-scale, mass evacuations from the Phoenix area include:

  1. Communication Capabilities - The capability or capacity of an aging communication system puts the overall success of the State evacuation and reception plan in jeopardy. Evacuation planners agree that the most significant deficiency affecting the plan is communication. The system currently depends on an analog processor. This system is over 20 years old and is approaching the end of its life expectancy.
  2. Community Outreach and Education Program - It has been established that a more aggressive outreach/education effort is needed to maximize effectiveness of the current plan.
  3. Rural Evacuation Route Signing and Information (Public Outreach) Strategy - Developing and implementing an effective strategy to foster community awareness and buy-in on developed evacuation plans.
  4. Mass Evacuation Regional Command and Control Center - Current emergency operation center capabilities fall below plan expectations. A more robust and comprehensive system is needed.
  5. Evacuation Route Signing - Developing a clear and effective system of signing is critical to the overall success of the plan.

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