Photo source: Georgia DOT
The Georgia Department of Transportation’s (GDOT) new Coordinated Highway Assistance & Maintenance Program (CHAMP) begins its phased launch today in Northeast Georgia, with plans to roll out the service to five other districts in the state by this May.
CHAMP will serve most interstates across the state located outside of Metro Atlanta. While CHAMP is separate from GDOT’s long-standing Highway Emergency Response Operators (HERO) program in the Atlanta region, its addition to the agency’s safety program makes Georgia the first state to provide statewide interstate highway assistance.
“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,” said Georgia DOT Commissioner Russell R. McMurry, P.E. “This is a complimentary public service made possible by Georgia’s Transportation Funding Act of 2015. CHAMP would not be feasible without those funds.”
CHAMP reports or resolves roadway maintenance issues and assists law enforcement with traffic incidents to ensure safe, quick clearance and efficient traffic flow. The program will provide immediate notification about bridge or roadway damage, downed signs, missing markings, signal malfunctions, and commercial vehicle crashes and spills. Participants also will clear clogged drains, clean up minor non-hazardous spills, and remove debris, vegetative growth and abandoned vehicles, in addition to aiding motorists who need help.
“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, P.E. 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.”
Georgia DOT is implementing CHAMP in two-week intervals across the state through May. After the initial launch, the second of six rollouts is scheduled for Feb. 21 in East Central Georgia. 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 per day, and will be on call the other eight hours.