Group Recommends Automation for Emergencies

- SC&RA, as part of the Federal Highway Administration’s Emergency Route Working Group (ERWG), has submitted recommendations to the U.S. Secretary of Transportation. The Group has met over the past 3 years since Congress enacted the transportation authorization law entitled “Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act.” The law required the U.S. Department of Transportation to create an ERWG. The ERWG is required to provide the Secretary of Transportation advice and recommendations for the implementation of best practices for expeditious State approval of permits for vehicles involved in emergency response and recovery.

“This is yet again another government report supporting automation and UPT2021,” said SC&RA V.P. Steven Todd.
The ERWG presented the following recommendations to the Secretary of Transportation regarding impediments that currently exist that prevent expeditious State approval of special permits for vehicles involved in emergency response and recovery:
  • The Secretary should incentivize States to modernize their permitting systems to provide for auto-issue permitting so that permits are available 24/7. This would reduce delays in obtaining the necessary permits to move OS/OW vehicles in response to an emergency.
  • The Secretary should document which States have auto-issue permit systems (apply online and print out a permit), what the requirements for length and width are, and determine why some States do not have auto-issue systems.

  • The Secretary should work with AASHTO and others to encourage States to create emergency permits in their automated systems that reduce time restrictions and durations for permits.

  • The Secretary should add data fields to the National Bridge Inventory to enhance permit automation and provide needed standardization.

  • The Secretary should determine if modifications to the current National Bridge Inspection Program Data Quality program need to be made in order to relax routing restrictions imposed by States.

  • The Secretary should identify new potential funding mechanisms to implement and maintain automated permitting systems. Reducing or eliminating the State match for existing funding programs could also be used to incentivize States to invest in automated permitting.

  • The Secretary should work with AASHTO and other stakeholders to continue work on harmonization and standardization of OS/OW vehicle regulations to facilitate and expedite the issuance of permits during an emergency. The Secretary should work with States to encourage increases in the thresholds used for auto-issuing permits in automated systems. FHWA should request that States identify barriers to increasing thresholds. AASHTO should work with industry and States to create a goal for higher size and weight thresholds for auto issuing permits so that higher and consistent thresholds across States can allow more emergency vehicles to receive auto-issue permits.
For more information on the ERWG, contact Steven Todd.

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