SCDPS to test hurricane plan for roadways

Traffic was backed up for hours in 1999 when Lowcountry residents tried to evacuate. Emergency personnel will practice a plan Tuesday that would reverse lanes on Interstate 26 to keep this gridlock from happening again.

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- Do you have a plan in place if a hurricane is headed for the Lowcountry?{} On Tuesday, emergency personnel will be practicing theirs.

The South Carolina Department of Public Safety will be doing a hurricane evacuation exercise on Tuesday to test lane reversal plans for all three major coastal areas of the state.

No traffic lanes will actually be reversed but drivers are cautioned that there will be a lot of law enforcement on the shoulder of the highway and at exits on I-26, U.S. 501, and S.C. 544 as well as U.S. 278 and U.S. 21 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. June 4.

SCDPS officials said intersections will not be blocked, and motorists will be allowed to move freely.{}

The hurricane evacuation exercise is designed to test lane reversal plans in the event of a mandatory coastal evacuation order.

Personnel and equipment from the SCDPS, the South Carolina Department of Transportation, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, the South Carolina Department of Probation, Parole and Pardons, the South Carolina Forestry Commission, the Civil Air Patrol and the South Carolina National Guard will participate in the exercise.

The exercise will be taking place on:

  • U.S. 278 and U.S. 21. leading out of Hilton Head and Beaufort. SCDOT equipment will be stationed on U.S. 278 from Almenda to Hampton in Hampton County
  • Interstate-26 from the intersection of I-526 and I-26 in Charleston to I-77 and I-26 in Columbia
  • 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 National Guard, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources and the South Carolina Forestry Commission will also be flying and SCDOT will also deploy Incident Response Vehicles.