COLUMBIA — The South Carolina Department of Public Safety and South Carolina Department of Transportation, in conjunction with a number of state and local agencies, will conduct a hurricane evacuation exercise on Thursday, June 17, to test lane reversal plans for all three major coastal areas of the state. Hurricane season began June 1 and ends November 30. Please note that no traffic lanes will actually be reversed during this exercise.
This hurricane evacuation exercise is designed to test lane reversal plans for Interstate 26, U.S. 21, U.S. 278, U.S. 501 and S.C. 544 in the event of a coastal evacuation order. Personnel and equipment from the South Carolina Department of Public Safety, the South Carolina Department of Transportation, the South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, the South Carolina Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services, the South Carolina Forestry Commission, the Civil Air Patrol and the South Carolina Army National Guard will participate in the exercise, which will last from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
“This hurricane exercise is critically important to the coordination of assets and personnel and represents one of many ways that state agencies collaborate to prepare before a hurricane event,” said SC Department of Public Safety Director Robert Woods, IV. “With the cooperation of our state and local partners, the tremendous advance planning that takes place each year as well as this exercise, the public can be assured that we are prepared to safely and efficiently move our coastal residents and visitors inland should an evacuation be ordered.”
The exercise will simulate reversal operations on U.S. 278 and U.S. 21. The deployment of equipment and personnel will be made on these roads leading out of Hilton Head and Beaufort. SCDOT equipment will be stationed on U.S. 278 from Almeda to Hampton in Hampton County.
Law enforcement personnel and traffic control devices will be deployed on Interstate 26 from the intersection of the 197 mm (Nexton Parkway) and I-26 in Charleston to I-77 and I-26 in Columbia.
Traffic control equipment and personnel will be stationed on U.S. 501 beginning at S.C. 544 and ending at U.S. 378 as well as between S.C. 22 and the Marion By-Pass.
Aerial units from SLED, the Civil Air Patrol, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources and the South Carolina Forestry Commission will be flying assigned aerial surveillance routes.
“This year is forecast to be another busy hurricane season, and that is why we are doing all we can to test operations and plans now, but we need residents to work with us to ensure each family has a plan,” said SC Department of Transportation Secretary Christy Hall. “We encourage all coastal residents to visit the SCDOT website to view evacuation routes and our updated lane reversal video for I-26 at www.scdot.org.”
The exercise should not interfere with the flow of traffic. Intersections will not be blocked, and motorists will be allowed to move freely. However, the Highway Patrol cautions motorists traveling I-26, U.S. 501, and S.C. 544 as well as U.S. 278 and U.S. 21 to exercise due caution and be aware that law enforcement officers and state personnel will be located on the shoulder of the highway and at exits.
For more information about the upcoming hurricane season, visit the SC Emergency Management Division’s website: Hurricane.SC and download the SCEMD Emergency Manager app to stay up-to-date during hurricane season. View the South Carolina Emergency Management Division’s 2021 Hurricane Guide.
I-26 Lane Reversal Guide – SCDOT video
The South Carolina Department of Public Safety includes the Highway Patrol, State Transport Police, Bureau of Protective Services, Office of Highway Safety and Justice Programs, Immigration Enforcement Unit and the South Carolina Law Enforcement Officers Hall of Fame. Our mission is to ensure public safety by protecting and serving the people of South Carolina and its visitors.