SCDOT and Highway Patrol to host annual hurricane lane reversal exercise on Thursday
CHARLESTON, SC (WCBD) – National and local agencies will participate in an annual hurricane lane reversal exercise on Thursday.
Teams from the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division and SC Department of Public Safety will test the state’s lane reversal plan for the three main coastal areas.
No lane will be closed during the exercise; however, crews will repeat the placement of traffic control devices along I-26 between Charleston and Columbia; US 21 and US 278 in Beaufort County; and US 501 in Horry County.
South Carolina Department of Public Safety director Robert Woods said the agency – along with SCDOT – began its efforts to prepare for the hurricane season in January.
“We have physically checked every escape route in the state making sure the proper signage is in place and also confirming that we have adequate personnel at traffic control points,” Woods said during ‘a press conference on June 4.e.
Woods said one of their strengths over the years has been that citizens understand their evacuation route in advance, and then take that route if an order is issued.
During Thursday’s exercise, SCDOT teams will travel to pre-designated locations along evacuation routes to deploy barrels and cones to roadsides and shoulders so that they do not affect no traffic. However, during a true lane reversal due to a hurricane, these barrels and cones would be used to safely handle evacuation traffic.
Other SCDOT staff are involved in monitoring the flow of traffic from traffic management centers and deploying traffic control devices such as billboards along routes that would be reversed.
“Lane reversals are a big part of hurricane evacuations in South Carolina, especially with the tremendous growth along our beautiful coast,” Transportation Secretary Christy Hall said. “Exercises like this will pay dividends if we were to implement reversals in the future. Additionally, I encourage the public to visit www.scdot.org and view a short video we produced to demonstrate the new and improved I-26 reversal plan.
The South Carolina Department of Transportation announced a revised lane reversal plan for part of I-26 in the Lowcountry last year.
This plan moved the reversal point of the I-26 / I-526 merger to a midpoint near Nexton Parkway.
SCDOT says that while this will reduce the length of the inversion by 15 miles, they expect it to reduce traffic impacts for the Charleston area and make it easier for motorists to access the inverted side of the road. the I-26.
Air units from SLED, Civil Air Patrol, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, and South Carolina Forestry Commission will fly on assigned aerial surveillance routes during the exercise.
The exercise should start at 8:00 a.m. and last until 2:00 p.m.
Motorists are urged to exercise caution as crews will be placed along these busy highways.