Recognizing that state departments of transportation are uniquely qualified to aid in the restoration of transportation services in the stricken states, AASHTO Executive Director John Horsley launched an effort to coordinate offers of assistance, expedite motor carrier permits for relief vehicles and focus state expertise on the extraordinary reconstruction needs the states face both short and long term.
In a letter to state DOT directors and to members of the AASHTO Standing Committees on Highways, Planning and the Subcommittee on Bridges and Structures, Horsley said, “Over the past few days, we have all been witness to the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. I know that you are eager to provide whatever help you can to your fellow state DOTs as they work to restore transportation services to their citizens.”
Horsley stated, “I am advised that currently the departments and federal agencies are in an assessment mode, to determine exactly what is needed to begin the recovery process. In the meantime, I have volunteered AASHTO to serve as a clearinghouse between the three states and the other state DOTs who are able and willing to provide help. While we wait for the assessment to be completed, I want to start the process of determining from our members what personnel, material or services could be provided.”
Another area in which AASHTO can be of assistance, he noted, is the expediting of motor-carrier permits that may be necessary for trucks, tankers, trailers and large equipment to travel to the affected states. AASHTO is coordinating with motor carrier administrators in the surrounding states in the region to determine how best to ensure that permitting be handled as simply and quickly as possible.
Finally, Horsley indicated that AASHTO members attending the upcoming AASHTO Annual Meeting in Nashville on Sept. 16-19 will have three opportunities to confer on ways in which they can help respond to the Katrina disaster, at meetings of the Standing Committee on Highways on Sept. 16, at a special meeting of the Board of Directors on Saturday, Sept. 17 from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., and at a general meeting on Monday, Sept. 19 at 8 a.m.
AASHTO will also take up cash collections for the Red Cross during the Annual Meeting. Horsley concluded, “Our thoughts and prayers are with the courageous men and women of these departments in this time of crisis.”