The Chamber’s Transportation Committee hosted Mario Jorge, San Antonio District Engineer for TXDOT, to get an update on the San Antonio Traffic Incident Management Project (TIM). The TIM Program aims to minimize response and clearance times on our highways by rapidly clearing all incident and debris from the travel lanes while ensuring safety for first responders, support teams, and the public.
Last summer, a taskforce of transportation agencies, law enforcement, emergency response agencies, and the private sector was created to focus on improving safety and efficiency of traffic incident response. The taskforce initiated a study to identify recommendations that would:
- Create a program to rapidly move stalled and crashed vehicles off the freeways and major streets;
- Provide a safe and secure transportation environment for people and goods;
- Communicate and coordinate activities in advance to provide a consistent response; and
- Maintain as much transportation capacity and safety as practical during the incident.
The study found that 25% of congestion in metro areas is caused by traffic incidents. Between January-June of 2016, there were nine fatalities due to disabled vehicles on freeways. In addition, there have been 62 fatal crashes in San Antonio this year alone. Incidents on the freeways carry serious implications in terms of air quality, personal safety, and the mobility of goods and people in the region. As San Antonio continues to increase in population, so does the need to have effective and efficient incident management.
TXDOT proposes a Safety Service Patrol (SSP) that consists of a 40-vehicle fleet that would patrol 210 miles of highway to provide traveler and incident management assistance. Service would span across multiple counties, and hours of operation would be weekdays between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. Currently, San Antonio is the only major city in Texas without an SSP.
The program has a price tag of $3.5 million per year. Similar to Austin’s SSP, TXDOT proposes a three-year contract with a private firm, with one-year extensions. TXDOT is exploring all funding options, including support from the City of San Antonio and Bexar County, sponsorships, and support from the Alamo Area MPO. According to Jorge, the SSP may even qualify for Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) funding if the city goes into non-attainment.
The Transportation Committee voted to support the SSP via a resolution. That will be making it to the Chamber Board of Directors for review and approval in the coming months.