Much of the debris from any incident—whether a traffic incident, collapse of aging infrastructure, or major disasters such as a hurricane or tornado—falls on or is pushed onto roads. These roads must be cleared rapidly because they are part of the planned network of emergency routes to bring in first responders, as well as to provide the necessary mobility to get the injured to appropriate medical care or to shelters. In the aftermath of an incident, it is essential to restore the transportation system and other public utilities as quickly as possible. This involves clearing debris and repairing, replacing, or restoring critical transportation infrastructure. Local and state involvement in debris management varies. During most incidents with limited scope, local and state departments of transportation (DOTs) or public works departments are financially responsible for physically clearing debris from roads. However, during catastrophic events with large quantities of debris that must be removed, the federal government supports state and local efforts in clearing debris, including what lies in the transportation rights of way. To effectively work with federal programs, state and local DOTs need to be better prepared—in terms of training, resources, and expertise—to understand their role in debris clearance and to potentially serve as the lead for debris management. In order for states to succeed, they must equip those that do debris removal for routine incidents—often the public works departments—with the tools necessary to produce a comprehensive debris management plan that, for example, meets the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) requirements for reimbursement and federal assistance as outlined in the FEMA Catastrophic Planning Initiative and the National Response Framework. Numerous lessons learned and good practices exist in a variety of forms from a variety of groups, including how to hire contractors for large debris clearance efforts, how to use existing governmental resources to a locality’s best advantage, how to pay for and get reimbursed for debris removal efforts, and so on. There is a need for this body of knowledge to be consolidated and presented in one source to improve state and local DOT capacities to manage debris removal for small through larger incidents and as a basis for training programs.
The objective of this research is to develop a handbook with recommended practices and procedures for debris management for local, tribal, and state transportation and public works agencies.
(1). Prepare an annotated bibliography of pertinent domestic and international research, on the basis of applicability, conclusiveness of findings, and usefulness for the development of debris management plans that include emergency debris clearance, collection, segregation, recycling, removal, and disposal from (a) roads under local and state responsibility, (b) other locations as agreed to under the relevant local and state emergency management plans, and (c) other transportation infrastructure under state control or influence such as navigable inland waterways, general aviation airports, short line railroads, and public transportation rights of way. Include completed research and research currently under way. (2). Prepare a review of debris management activities conducted by local and state entities. Evaluate and summarize effective practices and lessons learned from available case studies, after-action reports, and investigative studies (e.g., Inspector General and Government Accountability Office reports). Pay particular attention to local, state, and federal ordinances, statutes, and administrative regulations related to (a) removal from public and private property and (b) contaminated debris management. (3). Analyze the information gathered in Tasks 1 and 2 to identify tools such as policies, procedures, mutual aid agreements, and memoranda of understanding that are potentially applicable to the roles and responsibilities of DOTs and public works agencies for debris management. Identify the incident command structure associated with implementation of the debris management plan, and the chain of custody and associated accountability and liability of transfers of debris (e.g., how do you know who is responsible when things go wrong under a variety of scenarios?). The analysis should encompass the full cycle of debris management activities. (4). Develop an updated work plan for Phase II and a detailed outline of the handbook. Identify proposed case studies to be developed in Phase II, to include an appropriate range of debris-inducing events.(5). Submit an interim report, within 8 months, to document the results of Tasks 1 through 4 for review by the NCHRP.
(6). Conduct the case studies in accordance with the approved Phase II work plan. The case studies should provide effective practices or examples of how local, state, or tribal DOTs or public works departments have (a) conducted debris management for incidents not covered under the Stafford Act, (b) implemented FEMA’s and FHWA’s guidelines effectively, and (c) been successful in their requests for reimbursement from FEMA and/or FHWA. (7). Prepare the handbook. The handbook should include effective practices for developing, improving, and implementing debris management plans; guidelines on seeking reimbursements; a method for developing an action plan; a self-assessment process; and a glossary of terms. The handbook should address the need for (a) multijurisdictional agency conduct, cooperation, contracting, coordination, and collaboration with public officials; (b) identification of agencies typically involved; (c) public information; (d) decision support tools (such as those found in resources under Special Note F); (e) policy options for maximizing local and state reimbursement for debris management; (f) basic cost estimation techniques for debris management activities; (g) a process for identifying the expected degree of reimbursement and differences in who spends and who receives funds; and (h) checklists consistent with NCHRP Report 525, Vol. 16: A Guide to Emergency Response Planning for State Transportation Agencies. (8). In addition to the Task 7 handbook, prepare a final report that includes background material used in the preparation of the handbook. Also prepare, as separate deliverables, an executive summary of the project; an updated PowerPoint presentation; and an updated, suggested implementation plan.
STATUS: Complete. An interim report was received in December 2012. An interim meeting was held in January 2013. A preliminary draft final research report was received in August 2013 and a preliminary draft Handbook was received in September 2013. Revised final deliverables were received in January 2014. Published as NCHRP Report 781: A Debris Management Handbook for State and Local DOTs and Departments of Public Works. In addition to the handbook, a methodology report and a PowerPoint presentation describing the entire project are available on the TRB website by searching for "NCHRP Report 781."