Free­way pa­trol ser­vice be­gins in East Cen­tral Ge­or­gia

The Covington News - - LOCAL - STAFF RE­PORTS news@cov­news.com

Mo­torists in east cen­tral Ge­or­gia to­day be­gan ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the ben­e­fits of a new statewide Co­or­di­nated High­way As­sis­tance & Main­te­nance Pro­gram (CHAMP). This op­er­a­tion is the na­tion’s first statewide free­way pa­trol ser­vice.

“En­sur­ing the safety of our road­ways for mo­torists and first re­spon­ders is our pri­mary goal. With that in mind, we are ex­cited to launch CHAMP in or­der to ex­pand our pa­trol and as­sis­tance ser­vices across the state,” Ge­or­gia DOT Com­mis­sioner Rus­sell R. McMurry said. “This is a com­pli­men­tary pub­lic ser­vice made pos­si­ble by Ge­or­gia’s Trans­porta­tion Fund­ing Act of 2015. CHAMP would not be fea­si­ble with­out those funds.”

East cen­tral re­gion driv­ers will see the as­signed op­er­a­tors cruis­ing In­ter­state 20 from New­ton County to the South Carolina line, I-520 and also I-16 from Bleck­ley County to Emanuel County.

While CHAMP is dis­tinct and sep­a­rate from the Depart­ment’s long-stand­ing and highly suc­cess­ful High­way Emer­gency Re­sponse Op­er­a­tors (HERO) pro­gram in the At­lanta re­gion, its ad­di­tion to Ge­or­gia DOT’s safety pro­gram makes Ge­or­gia the first state to pro­vide statewide in­ter­state high­way as­sis­tance.

“What makes CHAMP dif­fer­ent from HERO and other sim­i­lar pa­trols across the coun­try is that it specif­i­cally ad­dresses high­way main­te­nance,” State Traf­fic En­gi­neer An­drew Heath said. “CHAMP op­er­a­tors are Ge­or­gia DOT’s eyes on the road. By proac­tively re­spond­ing to main­te­nance is­sues, as well as ad­dress­ing in­ci­dent clear­ance and mo­torist as­sis­tance, they will make Ge­or­gia high­ways safer.”

CHAMPs re­port or re­solve road­way main­te­nance is­sues and as­sist law en­force­ment with traf­fic in­ci­dents to en­sure safe, quick clear­ance and ef­fi­cient traf­fic flow. They pro­vide im­me­di­ate no­ti­fi­ca­tion about bridge or road­way dam­age, downed signs, miss­ing markings, sig­nal mal­func­tions, and com­mer­cial ve­hi­cle crashes and spills.

They clear clogged drains, clean up mi­nor non-haz­ardous spills, and re­move de­bris, veg­e­ta­tive growth and aban­doned ve­hi­cles. CHAMPs also aid mo­torists who need it.

“As Ge­or­gia con­tin­ues to grow, the Ge­or­gia Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion stands ready to ad­dress in­creas­ing traf­fic and main­te­nance needs on our state’s high­ways,” Dis­trict En­gi­neer Jimmy Smith said. “Help­ing to safe­guard road­ways for the trav­el­ing pub­lic re­quires our com­mit­ment to main­tain­ing high qual­ity in­ter­states, state routes and bridges. This is our obli­ga­tion, and it is crit­i­cally im­por­tant to the qual­ity of life Ge­or­gians expect and de­serve.”

For mo­torist as­sis­tance or to re­port a crash, in­fra­struc­ture dam­age or de­bris on a Ge­or­gia in­ter­state or state route, mo­torists are di­rected to dial 511. Call­ers will be asked to pro­vide op­er­a­tors with their lo­ca­tion, mile­post or near­est exit num­ber to as­sist CHAMPs in lo­cat­ing the in­ci­dent.

The Ge­or­gia Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion’s new ser­vice will con­tinue a phased launch through the end of April. North­east Ge­or­gia was the first dis­trict to see CHAMP oper­a­tions ear­lier this month and west cen­tral Ge­or­gia is next up on March 7.

When fully op­er­a­tional, CHAMP will be staffed by 48 full-time op­er­a­tors and 18 full-time dis­patch­ers. A to­tal of 51 branded, cus­tom-fit­ted CHAMP trucks will pa­trol 16 dif­fer­ent routes on in­ter­states (ex­cept short stretches of I-24 and I-59) seven days a week, 16 hours a day, and will be on call the other eight hours. Op­er­a­tors do not ac­cept tips or pay­ment from the pub­lic.

The CHAMP pro­cure­ment process was com­pleted through a com­pet­i­tive solic­i­ta­tion re­quest for pro­pos­als. The con­tract was awarded to AECOM team; KCI and Kennedy En­gi­neer­ing (DBE) subcontractors, who pro­vide man­age­ment, dis­patch, op­er­a­tor staff and the truck fleet to carry out all du­ties. The three-year con­tract in­cludes an op­tion to ex­tend for an ad­di­tional two years.

For in­for­ma­tion about CHAMP, in­clud­ing a route map and statewide im­ple­men­ta­tion sched­ule, visit www.dot.ga.gov/CHAMP.

Sub­mit­ted photo | The Covington News | The Covington News

CHAMP re­gion su­per­vi­sor Ron­nie McNorn­ton works off In­ter­state 16 near Dublin Mon­day tag­ging an aban­doned ve­hi­cle.

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