The Coordinated Highway and Maintenance Program (CHAMP) launches this week in the 17 counties of Georgia DOT’s District Six in northwest Georgia. Operators will be the eyes on the road for both maintenance issues and incident management/response on Interstate 75 from Bartow County to the Tennessee State line and I-20 from Carroll County to the Alabama State line.Motorists in northwest Georgia will be introduced on Monday to a new statewide Coordinated Highway Assistance & Maintenance Program (CHAMP). This operation is the nation’s first statewide freeway patrol service.
“Ensuring the safety of our roadways for motorists and first responders is our primary goal. With that in mind, we are excited to launch CHAMP in order to expand our patrol and assistance services across the state,” said Georgia DOT Commissioner Russell R. McMurry.
While CHAMP is separate from the Department’s long-standing and highly successful Highway Emergency Response Operators (HERO) program in the metro Atlanta area, its addition to Georgia DOT’s safety program makes Georgia the first state to provide statewide interstate highway assistance.
“What makes CHAMP different from HERO and other similar patrols across the country is that it specifically addresses highway maintenance,” State Traffic Engineer Andrew Heath said. “CHAMP operators are Georgia DOT’s eyes on the road. By proactively responding to maintenance issues, as well as addressing incident clearance and motorist assistance, they will make Georgia highways safer.”
CHAMPs in northwest Georgia will report or resolve roadway maintenance issues and assist law enforcement with traffic incidents to ensure safe, quick clearance and efficient traffic flow. They will provide immediate notification about bridge or roadway damage, downed signs, missing markings, signal malfunctions, and commercial vehicle crashes and spills.
They will clear clogged drains, clean up minor non-hazardous spills, and remove debris, vegetative growth and abandoned vehicles. CHAMPs will also aid motorists who need it.
“As you and I know, improved transportation is vital to the continued success and progress of northwest Georgia,” said DeWayne Comer, district engineer at the Georgia DOT office in Cartersville. “CHAMP is another transportation service that represents a milepost on the road to better mobility and better quality of life for all Georgia’s residents and visitors.”
For motorist assistance or to report a crash, infrastructure damage or debris on a Georgia interstate or state route, motorists are directed to dial 511. Callers will be asked to provide operators with their location, milepost or nearest exit number to assist CHAMPs in locating the incident.
The Georgia Department of Transportation’s new service has continued a phased launch through early May. Northeast Georgia was the first district to see CHAMP operations early February 2017, and northwest Georgia completes the statewide launch of the program.
When fully operational, CHAMP will be staffed by 48 full-time operators and 18 full-time dispatchers. A total of 51 branded, custom-fitted CHAMP trucks will patrol 16 different routes on interstates (except short stretches of I-24 and I-59) seven days a week, 16 hours a day, and will be on call the other eight hours. Operators do not accept tips or payment from the public.
For information about CHAMP, please visit www.dot.ga.gov/CHAMP.