The Georgia Department of Transportation launched a phase-in of its new Coordinated Highway Assistance and Maintenance Program that will eventually have GDOT roadside assistance trucks operating on most interstate highways across the state.
The CHAMP program will complement a similar effort the department has already operated in and around Atlanta, which it calls Highway Emergency Response Operators and whose primary goal is to clear roads at traffic-related incidents to restore normal flows.
GDOT said the new program, which also includes a maintenance role, makes Georgia the first state to provide trucks that give motorists statewide interstate highway assistance.
It introduced the initial CHAMP operators in Northeast Georgia, and said it will roll out the service to five other GDOT districts by May.
"Ensuring the safety of our roadways for motorists and first responders is our primary goal. With that in mind, we are excited to launch CHAMP in order to expand our patrol and assistance services across the state," said Georgia DOT Commissioner Russell McMurry. He said the program is paid for out by a 2015 state transportation funding act, and said that "CHAMP would not be feasible without those funds."
Each custom-equipped CHAMP pickup truck will have a single operator who will have first-aid gear, traffic warning signs, flares, emergency fuel supplies, coolants, bottled water, and tools for debris removal and minor vehicle help such as tire changes and towing a stalled car out of a traffic lane.
The roving operators can report or resolve roadway maintenance issues and assist law enforcement with traffic incidents to ensure safe, quick clearance and efficient traffic flow, GDOT said. They provide an extra set of eyes to give highway maintenance crews immediate notice about bridge or roadway damage, downed signs, missing markings, signal malfunctions and commercial vehicle crashes or spills.
"What makes CHAMP different from HERO and other similar patrols across the country is that it specifically addresses highway maintenance," said State Traffic Engineer Andrew Heath said. "CHAMP operators are Georgia DOT's eyes on the road. By proactively responding to maintenance issues, as well as addressing incident clearance and motorist assistance, they will make Georgia highways safer."
GDOT is implementing CHAMP in two-week intervals across the state through May, with the second rollout scheduled for Feb. 21 in east-central Georgia.
When fully deployed, the program will have 48 fulltime CHAMP truck operators and 18 fulltime dispatchers. In all, GDOT said 51 branded trucks will patrol 16 different routes on interstates (except for short stretches of I-24 and I-59) 16 hours each day, and will be on call the other eight hours.
The CHAMP procurement process was completed through a competitive solicitation request for proposals. The contract was awarded to AECOM team; KCI and Kennedy Engineering (DBE) subcontractors, who provide management, dispatch, operator staff and the truck fleet to carry out all duties. The three-year contract includes an option to extend for an additional two years.
More information about CHAMP, including a route map and statewide implementation schedule, are available at
the program's website.