Keeping people and goods moving at a “Critical Juncture”

by Harold S. Taniguchi
Director, King County Dept. of Transportation

man with microphone

Marcus Deyerin, Training and Exercise Program Manager for emergency management in the DOT Director’s Office (Photo: Jeff Wamsley)

Keeping communities connected is our mission, and that includes during those times when roads are blocked by natural disaster or overturned trucks. It’s impossible to predict when an emergency or disaster will occur, so our job is to be trained and prepared for when that day comes. A big part of that preparation is making sure the jurisdictions in our region are all on the same page.

That’s why we’ve brought Marcus Deyerin into the DOT Director’s Office as our Training and Exercise Program Manager for emergency management. Marcus has earned the initials CEM MEP after his name, which mean he’s a Certified Emergency Manager and a Master Exercise Practitioner.

Marcus designed the disaster scenario, developed the exercise plan, and served as the facilitator for a joint tabletop exercise called Critical Junction 2017, sponsored by Seattle DOT and held last week at King County International Airport. In this scenario, agency representatives walked through how we would keep the region moving if a propane truck were to crash into the 520 overpass near the Ship Canal Bridge and set off a chain reaction that shuts down both directions of I-5 for a week.

traffic camera shot of overturned truck

On Feb. 27, a propane tank crash shut down I-5 just south of the I-90 junction (Photo: WSDOT)

Participants in this exercise identified the major issues and challenges such a situation would create, used existing plans already developed for this type of incident, and proposed possible strategies and tactics for managing or mitigating the impacts. The purpose of this exercise was to provide a forum where ideas could be floated for further assessment, so they aren’t necessarily those that would be implemented. But among the ideas talked through were adding more regional bus and rail routes; establishing new “bus only” routes along certain corridors; engaging with private transportation providers like taxis and ride-hailing services; delay closing the I-90 reversible roadway; adjust parking restrictions downtown; and encourage employers to support telecommuting to the fullest extent possible.

All of the participating agencies manage smaller-scale incidents on a regular basis, but these regional exercises build the kind of inter-agency coordination that it takes to manage an incident of some magnitude. table signs at emergency exercise meetingExercise participants included representatives from Seattle DOT, King County DOT, Washington State DOT, US Department of Transportation, Sound Transit, Seattle, Bellevue and King County Offices of Emergency Management, Seattle Fire and Police Departments, Seattle Parks Department, Washington State Patrol, Washington National Guard, the University of Washington, and others.Marcus received many kudos for his thoughtful and deliberate work on this exercise –part of our commitment to emergency management and our regional partnerships for response and recovery.  My thanks to all those in King County DOT who keep us ready every day to act as needed on a moment’s notice.