The National Academies

NCHRP 20-59(51)B [Completed]

A Guide to Emergency Management at State Transportation Agencies, Second Edition

  Project Data
Funds: $100,000
Research Agency: Countermeasures Assessment & Security Experts, LLC
Principal Investigator: Mr. Jeffrey L. Western
Effective Date: 2/3/2016
Completion Date: 9/30/2017


In 2012, the AASHTO Special Committee on Transportation Security and Emergency Management (SCOTSEM) adopted TRB’s National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) Report 525, Vol. 16: A Guide to Emergency Response Planning at State Transportation Agencies (the 2010 Guide, available at https://www.trb.org/Main/Blurbs/164691.aspx). The 2010 Guide is designed to help executive management and emergency response planners at state transportation agencies as they and their local and regional counterparts assess their respective emergency response plans and identify areas needing improvement. The 2010 Guide reflects accepted practices in emergency response planning and incorporates advances made over the previous decade in Traffic Incident Management (TIM), Emergency Transportation Operations (ETO), and supporting programs.

The 2010 Guide replaces a 2002 document, A Guide to Updating Highway Emergency Response Plans for Terrorist Incidents (available on the AASHTO website at
https://scotsem.transportation.org/Documents/guide-ResponsePlans.pdf), which was released following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and the subsequent anthrax attacks.
In addition to the introduction, background, and institutional context for emergency response planning, the 2010 Guide has two major sections:
  • Sections 3-5: Design an Emergency Preparedness Program—this contains a program-level review of the all-hazards approach to emergency management, which will help transportation agencies assess their plans and identify areas needing improvement.
  • Section 6: Resource Guide—this contains guidance on organizational, staffing, and position decisions; decision-making sequences; a full emergency response matrix; and a purpose and supporting resources for action reference matrix.

The 2010 Guide provides links in its appendices to model emergency operations plans, policy and procedural memoranda, and training and exercise plans. These are supplemented online with


The objective of this research is to develop a recommended Second Edition Guide for use by state transportation agencies in planning and developing their organizational functions, roles, and responsibilities for emergency response within the all-hazards context of the National Incident Management System (NIMS). The Second Edition Guide should be suitable for adoption by the AASHTO Special Committee on Transportation Security and Emergency Management (SCOTSEM). The updated Guide should reference the latest state of the practice and guidance in emergency management. This effort would include guidance from USDOT, FHWA, AASHTO, FEMA, TSA, DHS, and TRB on emergency management from a state-level DOT perspective. For example, information such as found in the National Disaster Response Framework; how response impacts short- to long-term recovery; pre-disaster planning for post disaster recovery; and efforts to include resilience and sustainability should all be looked at and addressed in the document


(1). Meet with the project panel to discuss and finalize the working plan. (2). Review pertinent domestic and international research, on the basis of applicability, conclusiveness of findings, and usefulness for the analytical needs of emergency response planning at state transportation agencies. Include completed research and research currently underway.(3). Identify and analyze requirements for state transportation agency planning and response functions, roles, and responsibilities required over the continuum of emergencies (i.e., planned activities, minor incident, major incident, hazmat incident, natural disaster, and terrorist incident). Specify responsibilities required under NIMS/NRF/NDRF. This analysis should encompass all transportation modes that are under state control or influence. (4). Review the current practices of state transportation agencies in meeting the responsibilities identified in Task 3 and assess the usefulness of available guidance. Describe the range of state transportation agency emergency-response planning and implementation practices and evaluate them relative to the requirements identified in Task 3. Include selected case studies illustrative of the range of state practices. (5). Develop a detailed outline of the Second Edition Guide and a revised work plan for Phase II. Recommend research activities for Phase II to achieve the project objective. (6). Submit an interim report, within 6 months, to document the findings of Tasks 1 through 5 for review by the NCHRP.


(7). Carry out the approved Phase II work plan in accordance with panel direction at the interim meeting. (8). Prepare a stand-alone technical memorandum titled “Implementation of Research Findings and Products.” (9). Final deliverables should include the following: (1) the Second Edition Guide for use by state transportation agencies in planning and developing their organizational functions, roles, and responsibilities for emergency response within the all-hazards context of NIMS; (2) a final report summarizing the background research; (3) an updated interim meeting PowerPoint presentation suitable, upon revision, for posting on the project website; (4) a stand-alone 1-page executive summary in a suitable format of text and graphics aimed at senior decision makers; and (5) the Task 8 implementation technical memorandum.

STATUS: Complete. Follow-on work is under NCHRP Project 20-116.  
State transportation agencies will always fulfill a role in the emergency-management effort - for all incidents, from the routine traffic incident through major emergencies to catastrophic events. State agency plans and procedures are expected (indeed required if the agency seeks federal compensation) to be related to state and regional emergency structures and plans. This involves multi-agency, multi]jurisdictional cooperation in emergency planning and operations.

The TRB National Cooperative Highway Research Program's NCHRP Research Report 931: A Guide to Emergency Management at State Transportation Agencies
 is an update to a 2010 guide that provided an approach to all]hazards emergency management and documented existing practices in emergency-response planning.

Significant advances in emergency management, changing operational roles at State DOTs and other transportation organizations, along with federal guidance issued since 2010, have resulted in a need to reexamine requirements for state transportation agency emergency-management functions, roles, and responsibilities.

The report is accompanied by 
NCHRP Web-Only Document 267:Developing a Guide to Emergency Management at State Transportation Agencies and a 
PowerPoint presentation that offers an overview and key findings, among other information.

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