Tennessee Agencies Sign Plan to Avoid Long Highway Closures

AASHTO Journal, 24 January 2012

Tennessee Transportation Commissioner John Schroer joined Tennessee Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner Bill Gibbons last week to sign a new agreement between the two agencies regarding the quick clearance of highway incidents. The goal of the agreement is to ensure public safety and restore Tennessee roadways to full capacity as soon as possible following collisions and other incidents.The two departments began working on the new agreement after an event in December that closed Interstate 40 in Wilson County for nearly 12 hours, leaving hundreds of motorists stranded overnight.

“We now have specific guidelines that can dramatically reduce the time it takes to clear major incidents from our interstates and major highways,” Schroer said in a statement.

The new agreement states the goals and objectives of the Tennessee Department of Transportation and the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security when a serious crash occurs, and defines the responsibilities of those responding to the incident.

“We have an obligation to the people of this state and the motorists traveling our roadways to improve our operations and communication,” Gibbons said in a statement. “This agreement will allow us to make earlier determinations about the magnitude of an incident and take appropriate action to not only reopen the roadway, but also improve safety for motorists and responders.”

The agreement includes a number of new procedures, which are detailed at bit.ly/TN8429. These include classifying incidents as major, intermediate, or minor as well as requiring reassessment of clearance activities every 30 minutes.

Full text of the 15-page agreement is available at bit.ly/TDOT021412.

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