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WSDOT’s quarterly performance report shows Incident Response program making a difference

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Date:  Monday, June 04, 2012

Contact: Contacts: Daniela Bremmer, WSDOT Director of Strategic Assessment, 360-705-7953 (Olympia) 
Yvette Wixson, WSDOT Gray Notebook Production Manager, 360-705-7970 (Olympia)  

WSDOT’s quarterly performance report shows Incident Response program making a difference
Crews respond to 10,000+ incidents in three months

OLYMPIA – Timely response to highway collisions by Washington State Department of Transportation crews, State Patrol and emergency personnel translated into an estimated $10.7 million in savings for highway travelers so far this year. This is just one of the topics covered in the latest edition of the Gray Notebook – WSDOT’s quarterly performance report.

In the first quarter of 2012 alone, the Incident Response program (pdf 5.2 mb)saved travelers and businesses money by reducing the time and gas they would have wasted stuck in traffic, while at the same time increasing highway safety. WSDOT’s Incident Response Teams (IRT) cost an estimated $1.2 million to operate per quarter, reporting a benefit-to-cost ratio of approximately 9-to-1 for the first quarter of the year.

“Already this year the benefits for drivers are excellent signs that the program is working well,” said John Nisbet, WSDOT traffic operations director. “Winter had its challenges but really underscored the importance of our IRT crews. Incident response plays a vital role in ensuring our agency’s commitment of safely moving people, goods and services is met daily.”

IRT responded to 10,588 incidents between Jan. 1 and March 31 with an average clearing time of fewer than 14 minutes. Due to severe winter weather in early 2012, the number of over-90-minute incidents increased by 41 statewide compared to the previous quarter with a total of 153 incidents. The average clearing time on these incidents was 187 minutes.

WSDOT, the Washington State Patrol and other emergency responders collaborate to reduce the duration of traffic incidents. When collisions occur, IRTs are dispatched by WSP to assist with traffic control, scene management, and clearing vehicles and debris to reduce the risk of secondary collisions and incident-related congestion. Incidents may include disabled or abandoned vehicles, debris in the roadway or vehicle collisions.

WSDOT has 47 IRT positions and 62 dedicated IRT vehicles operating throughout the state, with 43 vehicles focused on keeping traffic flowing in the Puget Sound region.

In addition to IRT benefits, the Gray Notebook also features sections on the performance of construction projects funded by the Nickel and Transportation Policy Act gas tax increases. The report also highlights schedule and budget performance, and includes annual reports on highway system safety, state-owned rest areas, ferries vessel and terminal preservation, travel information, wetlands protection, water quality and freight mobility. This 45th edition of the performance report also includes worker safety and mega projects reports.

To find out more about WSDOT accountability and view the Gray Notebook 45, or the condensed “Lite” version, visit

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