Here’s Why There Are Emergency Route Signs Along Area Roads
Driving around town, you may have noticed all of these signs up that read "Emergency Route" with some sort of letter or sometimes double letters attached to them. Any idea what they're for?
Well, according to the Maine Department of Transportation's Regional Traffic Engineer, Bruce Mattson, these signs are the result of input gathered by emergency responders from monthly Transportation Incident Management meetings being held in the area.
The MDOT took the information gathered at these meetings, and put together an Incident Management Plan, specifically for situations that could come up if Interstate 95 needed to be closed down.
The way it works is this: Say there's a big accident on the Interstate, and emergency responders need to shut down part of it. They would contact folks at the MDOT, who would then remotely activate those big signs along the highway, which would then let motorists know which one of the emergency routes to follow. This way, the motorists would be able to avoid the accident area and not get held up in traffic.
If they have to shut northbound lanes down, the signs will have a single letter. Double lettered routes will be flashed if the incident involves a Southbound closure. As drivers exit the interstate, there will be other signs directing them along the appropriate path around the incident sights, making it safer for both motorists and the folks working on the scene.
Mattson says the signs started to go up at the end of March 2019. For most of the state, they're pretty straightforward, but in the Bangor area, things get a little trickier because of all of the intersections.
Ironically, the inaugural test run of the new system came at the beginning of April 2019, when a Maine State Trooper was involved in a deadly accident on the side of the interstate. Mattson says they had to shut the interstate down so that reconstructions could be done. He said the system worked very well during that situation and served its purpose; to help people find alternate routes of travel when emergencies happen along the interstate.