As states along the eastern seaboard prepared for Hurricane Sandy to make landfall Monday evening, state transportation departments and their federal emergency response partners were working to position emergency relief commodities for immediate deployment following the storm.
AASHTO's Subcommittee on Highway Transport (SCOHT), in an ongoing collaboration with the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Response Program and the FHWA Office of Freight Management and Operations, maintains a network of state DOT permitting officials on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, who are authorized to issue oversize and overweight truck permits and waivers for interstate travel needed for trucks moving emergency commodities like FEMA generators and mobile homes in advance of, and following, a major disaster. In 2006, SCOHT adopted an Emergency Procedure Protocol for state DOTs to contact one another for off-hour permitting needs.
Efforts to create a harmonized interstate system for these types of moves were greatly enhanced following the enactment of MAP-21 this summer, which now extends a state's authority to issue oversize and overweight permits to include trucks carrying divisible loads on the interstate highway system.
Beginning as early as the Saturday evening before the storm, carriers moving overweight FEMA generators from a staging yard in Texas to potential storm landfall area in Pennsylvania and New Jersey were able to obtain the necessary permits from each of the states along their route to ensure the generators traveled on a safe route and arrived at their final destination well before Hurricane Sandy made landfall.
SCOHT maintains a password-protected database of 24/7 emergency contact information for authorized permit officials and State Emergency Management centers on the committee website at highwaytransport.transportation.org under the tab "Emergency OS/OW Moves." DOTs are strongly encouraged to check the information for accuracy and send any updates to AASHTO Intermodal Program and Policy Manager Chris Smith at csmith AT aashto.org.
In the event of future disaster preparedness emergencies, state DOT officials needing off-hour access information for their colleagues in other DOTs may contact Chris Smith at 202-957-6430 or FHWA's John Nicholas at 202-366-2317.