MDOT holds contraflow drill
Published 7:00 am Wednesday, June 17, 2015
With the arrival of hurricane season, the Mississippi Department of Transportation conducted a contraflow drill on Interstate 59 to test evacuation preparedness across South Mississippi.
Tuesday, nearly 200 MDOT personnel from District 6 transported and set up equipment along the shoulder of the interstate from Louisiana’s state line to Hattiesburg, said Kelly Castleberry, MDOT District 6 engineer.
“Today’s drill was done to make sure we have the equipment and manpower necessary to prepare for a hurricane. A drill like this helps our department recognize if we are missing an item or if we don’t have enough personnel for a particular area,” Castleberry said.
MDOT crews began the drill at 8 a.m. and were assigned specific tasks such as placing signs along the interstate. The drill was timed in order to assess the crews’ efficiency, Castleberry said.
“We try to give crews a four hour window during a contraflow drill but our goal is to try to get it done as quickly as possible that way we’re prepared for a real evacuation,” Castleberry said.
Tuesday’s drill didn’t involve any lane closures or traffic reversals.
Southern District Transportation Commissioner Tom King said they conduct the drill every two years.
“This drill is meant to get us prepared for a real evacuation. We know it’s going to happen, it’s just a matter of when,” King said.
Numerous MDOT employees, along with the Mississippi Highway Patrol and Forrest County Emergency Management, took part in the exercise, which was hosted at the Mississippi Department of Transportation headquarters in Hattiesburg.
Contraflow would be implemented when requested by the state of Louisiana and approved by Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant, King said.
“However, contraflow will only be activated for a category three, four or five hurricane,” King said.
Participants met after the drill to evaluate the operation.
For more information about hurricane preparedness, visit www.GoMDOT.com/hurricanes.