Emergency Transportation Operations

Highway Evacuations in Selected Metropolitan Areas: Assessment of Impediments

Summary of Findings

The summary of findings addresses both the input from the respondents from the 26 regions and a summary of the West of the NCR report that immediately precedes this section.

Summary of Top Impediments as Reported by the 26 Regions Included in the Study

Jurisdictional respondents and interviewees provided thoughtful responses and insightful dialogue. The table below categorizes the input into general and common areas that would impede an evacuation from the jurisdiction. The FHWA decided not to extrapolate further findings from these as differences in local situations make definitive findings difficult to capture. However, it is clear that several impediment areas (e.g., day-to-day congestion, infrastructure constraints, and communications) are common to many of the areas studied.

image of a congested freeway

Options for Accelerating Projects to Increase Evacuation Capacity West of the National Capital Region

The second part of this study addressed how NHS projects under construction west of the NCR could increase the NCR's evacuation capacity. The FHWA conducted research and extensive interviews with FHWA Division staff and authorities from the States of West Virginia and Maryland, the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the Washington Council of Governments to discuss corridors and planned construction on the NHS and arterial routes that evacuees departing the NCR would use to evacuate the region. Through this research and interviews, FHWA (1) identified NHS roads that would qualify for this study, e.g., corridors leading west from the NCR; (2) analyzed NHS projects (or phases of large multi-phase projects) west of the NCR currently under construction that could increase evacuation capacity; and (3) provided options to accelerate NHS projects (or phases of large multi-phase projects) under construction.

Through its research and interviews, FHWA identified opportunities to accelerate construction projects on the various routes studied. Since most opportunities to accelerate construction depend on innovative means to carry out project financing, project development, and contract administration, the research team consulted with numerous FHWA, MDSHA, VDOT, and WVDOT specialists in order to identify viable options for the identified projects. The FHWA has been a leader in identifying and advocating the use of contract administration and project finance options to accelerate construction time on all highway projects, with particular focus on large and complex projects. The table below summarizes which specific project finance and contract administration options examined in this study have been, or will be, considered by the MDSHA and the WVDOH to accelerate construction, or time to construction, for the six projects (or phases of large multi-phase projects) identified that would increase evacuation capacity on key NHS evacuation routes west of the NCR.

Summary of Jurisdictional Perceptions of Impediments by Location

Location Top Impediments/Challenges
Atlanta, GA Contraflow Constraints; Infrastructure Limitations; Arterial Road Systems with Overpasses Cannot Accommodate Trailer Heights; Bridge Weight Restrictions Impede Movements; and Traffic Data is Scattered Throughout the Region
Baltimore, MD Evacuation Plan Needs Updating; Infrastructure Impediments-Roadways; and Region Lacks a Coordinated Signal Timing System
Boston, MA Contraflow Constraints; Shoulders May Not be Able to Support Additional Evacuation Traffic; and No Place for Sheltering
Charleston, SC Infrastructure Constraint I-26; East-West Evacuation Routes; Lane Restrictions; ITS Capabilities along Evacuation Routes; and Incident Responder Coverage Along I-26, Charleston to Columbia
Chicago Traffic Congestion; Emergency Vehicle Access; Railroad Crossing/Street Blockage; Contraflow Operations Would Impede Evacuations; and Real-Time Highway Information for Responders and Public
Dallas/Ft. Worth, TX Infrastructure Limitations; Lack of Cameras along Key Routes; and Evacuation Plans Do Not Exist
Denver, CO No Evacuation Plan; No Evacuation Routes Identified; No Lane Assignments for Emergency Services; Infrastructure Limitations; Traffic Flow Analysis on Evacuation Routes; and Weather Hindrances
Detroit, MI Infrastructure Conditions Impede Responder Operations; Congestion; and Bottlenecks on Freeways, including Narrow Freeway Lanes and Limited Shoulders
Hampton Roads, VA Traffic Signal Timing; Number of Water Crossings; Limited ITS Deployment Along Key Evacuation Routes; Flood-Prone Infrastructure; and Human Resources to Manage Evacuation Operations and Tools
Houston, TX Bottlenecks; Communications with the Public; Number/Type of Resources to Deploy; More CCTV Cameras; and Modeling Timeliness
Jacksonville, FL Work Zones; Limited Fueling Stations; No DMSs on westbound I-10; and No ITS Deployment on Key Interstates
Las Vegas, NV Insufficient Lanes and Daily Congestion; Coordination with Other States on Evacuation Routes; Communications Systems Would Not Support Evacuation Operations; Deployable Traffic Signs and Evacuation Route Signage; and Traffic Flow Monitoring
Los Angeles, CA Congestion and Evacuation Route Capacity; Communications Capabilities; and Public Outreach and Understanding Evacuation Process
Miami, FL Insufficient Road Capacity; Damage to Critical Infrastructure; Work Zones on Major Routes; Traffic Signal Timing; and Lack of ITS Devices on Major Arterial Roads
Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN Infrastructure Capacity and Congestion; Lack of Coordinated Plan and Universal Agreement on the Benefits of Evacuation; Disconnected Transportation and Emergency Operations Centers; Need for More Signage and Public Education; Coordination of Signal Timing Plans; Address Equipment Gaps for Pedestrian Movements; and Develop Multiple Options for River Crossing
National Capital Region (DC, MD & northern VA) Regional GIS Database; Traffic Signal Coordination on Arterials; Limited Roadway Capacity; Institutional Coordination; Communication Interoperability and Protocols; and VIP Movements and Security
New Orleans, LA Highway Flooding; Additional ITS Capacity; Insufficient Capacity; and Lack of Emergency Lanes
New York City, NY Infrastructure Condition and Limitations; Need Improved Coordination between State/Local Transportation Officials and Responders; Limited Deployment of ITS Impact on Sharing Situational Awareness Data; Weather Impacts; and Need for Public Information Campaign
Philadelphia, PA Expressway Congestion; Need for Situational Awareness; Emergency Signal Timing Coordination; Operational Coordination; and Toll Waivers
Phoenix, AZ Communication Capabilities; Community Outreach and Education Program; Rural Evacuation Route Signing and Information (public outreach) Strategy; Mass Evacuation Regional Command and Control Center; and Evacuation Route Signing
Portland, OR Bridge Vulnerability; Capacity and Infrastructure Limitations; Communications and Coordination with Neighboring Jurisdictions and the Public; Communications and ITS Technology for Incident Operations; Improved Traffic Management and Safety; More Robust Planning for Evacuation Operations; and Identification and Use of Resources
San Diego, CA Communication Capabilities; Evacuation Route Capacity; and Need Public Outreach Campaign
San Francisco, CA Communication Capabilities if Damaged; and Infrastructure (Roads, Bridges and Overpasses) along Evacuation Routes
Seattle, WA Congestion; Limited Infrastructure; and Insufficient Responder Resources to Manage an Evacuation
St. Louis, MO Limited Capacity; and Highway Capacity and Bridges
Tampa-St. Petersburg, FL Highway Infrastructure Capacity; Bridge Infrastructure Capacity; Bridge Vulnerability to Damage; Highway Vulnerability to Damage; and Limited Evacuation Routes due to Geographic Limitations

Summary of Jurisdictional Perceptions of Top Impediments:
General Categories17

General Categories Location Reporting as Top Impediment
Communications Equipment & Frequencies, Including Interoperability Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, National Capital Region (NCR), Phoenix, San Diego, San Francisco
Communications with Responders or Public Houston, Portland
Congestion/Capacity Chicago (2), Detroit, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Miami, NCR, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Portland, San Diego, Seattle, St. Louis, Tampa (2)
Contraflow Issues Atlanta, Boston, Chicago
Coordination, including with internal Partners, Responders & other States Las Vegas, Minneapolis-St. Paul, NCR, New York City, Philadelphia, Portland
Evacuation Route Identification Denver
Infrastructure-Bridges & Overpasses Atlanta (2), Charleston, Portland, San Francisco, St. Louis, Tampa- St. Petersburg(2)
Infrastructure-Roads including Bottlenecks, Condition, Emergency Vehicle Access Lanes, etc. Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Charleston(2), Chicago, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Denver(2), Detroit(5), Hampton Roads, Houston, Las Vegas, Miami(2), NCR, New Orleans(2), New York City, San Francisco, Seattle
ITS18 Infrastructure General Charleston, Hampton Roads, Jacksonville, Miami, New York City, Philadelphia, Portland
ITS-DMS Jacksonville
ITS-CCTV Traffic Cameras & Detectors Dallas/Ft. Worth, Houston, New Orleans
ITS-Ramp Metering Hampton Roads
Plans Need Updating or Developed Baltimore, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Denver, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Portland
Plans-Alternate Modes of Transport Minneapolis-St. Paul
Public Outreach/Education Los Angeles, Minneapolis-St. Paul, New York City, NCR, Philadelphia, Phoenix(2), San Diego
Real-Time Data Chicago, New York City, Philadelphia
Resources-Equipment for Pedestrian Movements Minneapolis-St. Paul
Resources-Fueling Stations Jacksonville
Resources-Responder Staff Charleston, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Hampton Roads, Houston, Portland, Seattle
Safety/Service Patrols-Increased Presence Charleston
Sheltering Boston, Portland
Signage-Evacuation Route or Other Chicago, Las Vegas, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Phoenix
TMC Data Sharing & EOC Connectivity Atlanta, Minneapolis-St. Paul, New York City, Phoenix
Toll Waivers Philadelphia
Traffic Analysis or Modeling Denver, Houston
Traffic Control & Monitoring Chicago, Las Vegas
Traffic Signal Timing Baltimore, Hampton Roads, Miami, Minneapolis-St. Paul, NCR, Philadelphia
VIP Movements & Security NCR
Weather or Geographic Hindrances Denver, Hampton Roads, New Orleans, NCR, New York City, Tampa- St. Petersburg
Work Zones Jacksonville, Miami

Summary of Project Options to Accelerate Construction

Project Finance Options

Potential Revenue Sources:
Options Projects to Consider Options
User Fees  
State/Local Taxes  
Value Capture  
Federal-aid Grants Management:
Options Projects to Consider Options
Advance Construction I-70 Phase 4, Corridor H (All Phases)
Partial Conversion of Advance Construction I-70 Phase 4, Corridor H (All Phases)
Flexible Match  
Tapered Match  
Toll Credits (Soft Match) I-70 Phase 4
Transfers Between States Corridor H (All Phases)
Advances Between States Corridor H (All Phases)
Transfers Between Projects Corridor H (All Phases)
Federal Credit Programs:
Options Projects to Consider Options
Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA)  
State Infrastructure Banks (SIBs)  
Section 129 Loans  
Bonds/Debt Financing:
Options Projects to Consider Options
Grant Anticipation Revenue Vehicles (GARVEEs) Corridor H (All Phases)
Availability Payments Corridor H (All Phases)
Shadow Tolls  
Private Activity Bonds (PABs)  
63-20 Issuance  
Build America Bonds (BABs)  

Contract Administration Options

Options Projects to Consider Options
Construction Manager At Risk  
Cost-Plus-Time I-70 Phase 4
Design-Build I-70 Phase 4, Corridor H (All Phases)
Design-Build-Maintain (Operate)  
Incentive/Disincentive (I/D) Provisions for Early Contract Completion I-70 Phase 4, Corridor H (All Phases)
Interim Completion Dates Corridor H (All Phases)
Multi-Parameter Bidding including Quality (A+B+Q Bidding)  
No Excuse Incentives  
Stipulated Sum I-70 Phase 4
Project Phasing I-70 Phase 4, Corridor H (All Phases)
Lane Rental  
Partnering I-70 Phase 4

Table Notes

17 Where a parenthesis and number follow a location, e.g., Charleston (2), that indicates that two of Charleston's top impediments fall into this category

18 Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) includes Dynamic Message Signs (DMS) Closed Circuit TV (CCTV), Traffic Cameras, Traffic Management Centers (TMCs), Emergency Operations Centers (EOCs), etc.

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