NJ transport officials hold annual hurricane exercise on Thursday
STAFFORD TWP. – There will be no impact on Jersey Shore motorists on Thursday morning when the New Jersey Department of Transportation begins an annual hurricane evacuation exercise, marking NJDOT’s passage in June to hurricane preparedness operations .
Forecasters recently predicted this year’s Atlantic hurricane season will be busy, but not as busy as in 2020. But Andrew Tunnard, NJDOT deputy commissioner of operations, said the practice was perfect for staff at agency land.
So, on Thursday, crews will meet at the Manahawkin maintenance yard to take equipment out of storage and rehearse what is called a “backwash,” or traffic reversal on roads designated as escape routes. coastal.
No roads will be closed during the exercise.
“Practice loading it onto their vehicles, getting them to their assigned stations, and doing everything right up to the point of popping out the cones or barrels or arrow panels,” Tunnard said of the process.
Ideally, according to Tunnard, workers would like a week’s notice to prepare for the impact of tropical force winds or more, but an exercise like this only allows them to mobilize about 30 to 36 hours at a time. advance. This includes a full day, 24 hours, to allow residents to use the escape routes.
“Before that, we need around 12 hours to set up the reverse traffic flow on the roads we have designated,” Tunnard said.
The annual training run was halted last year due to COVID-19, but will now run mostly as usual, with some social distancing considerations still in place.
Tunnard said if you’re in the exercise zone you might not even know it’s happening, or new staff can learn the ropes.
“The public probably wouldn’t notice much of the things that we change, but we train every year for a number of reasons,” he said. “I have to note that last year we didn’t do the physical part of the exercise, we only did a tabletop version.”
If you see DOT vehicles on the side of the road on Thursday, the general directive to slow down or move still applies.
But if not, said Tunnard, be prepared in your own car if you ever need to evacuate, especially in a misdirection situation.
“Take good care of your vehicle,” he said. “Make sure he has enough fuel. It’s a good idea to have some extra water, maybe some snacks if you’re going to be in traffic for a little while. “
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