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AASHTO Journal

State DOT Officials Join Emergency Route Working Group; First Meeting Set for Jan. 9

Officials from three state departments of transportation are among 21 members of a new federal advisory panel, required under the Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act, to provide recommendations on best practices related to special permitting for emergency response and recovery vehicles.

capitol0816.jpgAnd according to a Dec. 27 Federal Register notice, that Emergency Route Working Group will hold its first public meeting Jan. 9 at the U.S. Department of Transportation headquarters. The notice said additional meetings are scheduled at the USDOT building on Feb. 16 and March 16.

Officials from the Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin DOTs are among the group's initial members, who may serve terms of up to two years to advise the U.S. transportation secretary – through the administrator of the Federal Highway Administration – on various issues involving emergency vehicles' access to transportation routes.

Specifically, the group is charged with considering whether:

-impediments now exist that prevent expeditious state approval of special permits for vehicles involved in emergency response and recovery;

-it is possible to pre-identify and establish emergency routes between states through which infrastructure repair materials could be delivered following a natural disaster or emergency;

-a state could pre-designate a certified emergency route if a motor vehicle that exceeds otherwise applicable federal and state truck length or width limits may safely operate along such a route during declared emergencies and recovery periods; and

-an online map could be created to identify each pre-designated emergency route, including information on specific limitations, obligations, and notification requirements along that route.

A website about the working group said its membership shall include, besides state DOTs, representatives from relevant modal agencies within the USDOT; emergency response or recovery experts; safety groups and entities affected by special permit restrictions during emergency response and recovery efforts. The FHWA administrator appoints eight of the members on behalf of the secretary.

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