The Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) has launched what it says is the first statewide freeway patrol service in the country with its Coordinated Highway Assistance & Maintenance Program, also known as CHAMP.
GDOT says CHAMP units will work on traffic incidents, roadway maintenance issues and other events impacting traffic flow, much like metro Atlanta’s HERO incident management program. CHAMPs will also communicate with and assist law enforcement.
State Traffic Engineer Andrew Heath says the difference between the two programs is that CHAMP operators will also address highway maintenance issues such as clogged drains, minor non-hazardous spills and removal of debris, vegetative growth and abandoned vehicles. “CHAMP operators are Georgia DOT’s eyes on the road,” he says. “By proactively responding to maintenance issues, as well as addressing incident clearance and motorist assistance, they will make Georgia highways safer.”
“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,” says GDOT Commissioner Russell R. McMurry. “This is a complimentary public service made possible by Georgia’s Transportation Funding Act of 2015. CHAMP would not be feasible without those funds.”
GDOT is rolling out the CHAMP program in two-week intervals across the state through May of this year. The first rollout began Feb. 7 in Northeast Georgia, with the second of six rollouts set for Feb. 21 in East Central Georgia.
Forty-eight full-time operators and 18 full-time dispatchers will be on the job when the program is fully operational. GDOT says 51 CHAMP trucks will patrol 16 different routes on interstates seven days a week, 16 hours a day. Operators will be on call the remaining eight hours each day. CHAMP units will not operate on the short stretches of Interstate 24 and I-59 in the Northwest corner of the state.
More details on the program are available at www.dot.ga.gov/CHAMP.