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FDOT announces new hurricane evacuation plan

 

Date: June 05, 2017
Source: News 4 Jax
Author:  Chris Parenteau

 

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The Florida Department of Transportation is changing their evacuation plan and making it easier for more people to get out of storm’s path.

It’s what county leaders agree should be a big part of your hurricane plan- your evacuation plan. Unlike the last couple years, all lanes of I-10 likely wouldn’t be used in one direction for an evacuation. Instead, state leaders are putting a new plan in place that would save resources but still help traffic flow.

In 1999, when Hurricane Floyd was heading our way, thousands sat in gridlock on I-10 as they tried to head west, away from the storm. After that, the Department of Transportation put a plan in place to use westbound and eastbound lanes in an evacuation, known as Contraflow. But that had its own issues.

“You had to have all of the different interchanges closed off and a lot of law enforcement out there trying to work that,” said Ron Tittle with FDOT.

Because of that, all of I-10 was lined with law enforcement or other state workers closing traffic in certain areas. Now, there is a new plan in place that may help use fewer personnel.

If needed, the right shoulder, or outside shoulder of I-10 heading westbound in an evacuation, would be available to use from the State Road 23 exit all the way to I-75.

The shoulder would have to be swept first though to make sure it was clear of debris for cars.

“This would help us to be able to implement it more quickly and effectively,” said Tittle.

He adds, because the shoulder is more narrow than travel lanes, cars would have to travel slower. That’s why he said if an evacuation order is given, it’s important to get out early and be prepared.

“If you're going to get on the road, have plenty of water, gas, all of the things to sustain you while you are on the road,” said Tittle.

The decision to use the shoulder in an evacuation would ultimately be at the state level and require the Governor’s authorization before the plan could be put in place.