NJ agencies stage drill on evacuating Shore towns

Traffic jams the Garden State Parkway across the Great Egg Harbor Bay Inlet Bridge near Ocean City, N.J.  (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

Traffic jams the Garden State Parkway across the Great Egg Harbor Bay Inlet Bridge near Ocean City, N.J. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

South Jersey drivers shouldn’t be alarmed Thursday if they see road crews setting up evacuation routes. It’s all part of an drill to practice directing traffic out of Shore towns in case of a hurricane.

The Department of Transportation is teaming up with the State Police, the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, and the South Jersey Transportation Authority for the drill.

“People will be seeing trucks going out loaded with cones and barrels and things that will be set up at specific points or exits along certain highways,” said Andrew Tunnard, assistant commissioner of operations at NJDOT.

“Our crews are going to stop there and do everything short of actually closing off that exit or that entrance onto a highway as they would if this were for real.”

Roads included in the drill are the Atlantic City Expressway, the Garden State Parkway, I-195, Route 72, Route 47, and Route 347.

Evacuations from Shore towns during Superstorm Sandy motivated the agency to take theoretical plans and run them as live exercises.

“Since Superstorm Sandy, we have decided it would be better if we raised our game and tried to implement a practical exercise that gives our field personnel some hands on experience,” said Tunnard.

Two of the biggest challenges during an emergency evacuation, he added, are communication and unloading equipment.

This is the second year in a row the exercise has been conducted.

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