(e.g., Amtrak), which may limit evacuation capacity. NYCT was recently forced to suspend rail operations when drainage systems were flooded after an intense rainstorm. Although no evacuation was planned, this incident illustrates the vulnerability of an older transit system. At the same time, the redundancy provided by New York’s extensive transit network enabled it to play an important role in the evacuation of Lower Manhattan following the attacks of September 11, 2001. Even in newer areas, such as Houston, with a large bus transit system, capacity constraints can hamper evacuation. This is a particular problem when an evacuation extends to involve suburban and exurban areas, as it did during Hurricane Rita; where highway networks are less well developed; and where intelligent transportation systems (ITS) technologies for managing traffic flows are lacking.
Recommendation 6: In the reauthorization of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users, Congress should authorize the Federal Transit Administration and the Federal Highway Administration to make eligible and to fund evacuation-related capacity-enhancement projects aimed at adding redundancy to critical transit and highway infrastructure, respectively, and increase funding for ITS technologies that can enhance network resilience in an emergency. State funds should also be directed to these purposes.
“Bricks and mortar” capacity enhancements might include not only adding redundancy to both transit and highway systems but also removing critical traffic bottlenecks on major evacuation routes. Such projects are sometimes controversial and must compete with other budgetary priorities for funding. They stand a greater chance of being funded when they meet multiple objectives (e.g., improve safety and reduce congestion, as well as serve evacuation needs). Operational measures, such as investments in ITS (e.g., cameras, interactive signs), traffic control measures (e.g., contraflow to expedite traffic in an evacuation), and interoperable communications systems to improve situational awareness, can help increase the efficiency and enhance the resilience of existing transit and highway networks in an emergency and should also be funded. Finally, a great deal can be accom-