Spinning our Wheels

Spinning our Wheels is a commuting blog about the challenges of getting around Atlanta by car, bus, MARTA, bicycles and on foot written by transportation reporter David Wickert

Ever break down on a Georgia highway? More help is on the way

Georgia today unveiled new safety and maintenance patrols to help stranded motorists and clean debris from interstate highways.

The Coordinated Highway Assistance & Maintenance Program (CHAMP) launches today in northeast Georgia. By May it will serve most interstate highways across Georgia outside of the Atlanta area. The exception: short stretches of I-24 and I-59 in northwest Georgia.

The patrols are similar to the Highway Emergency Response Operators (HERO) units familiar to Atlanta drivers. The HERO units patrol 310 miles of metro Atlanta freeways, assisting motorists and clearing roads during traffic incidents.

Unlike the HERO units, the CHAMP patrols will also tackle maintenance problems. That means they’ll do everything from unclogging drains to removing debris and abandoned vehicles. They’ll also help stranded motorists and assist law enforcement during accidents.

Fifty-one CHAMP trucks staffed by 48 operators and 18 dispatchers will patrol the interstates. They’ll work seven days a week, 16 hours a day, and be on call the other eight hours.

In a press release, Georgia Department of Transportation Commissioner Russell McMurry said the new patrols were made possible by the Transportation Funding Act, approved by the General Assembly in 2015.

“Ensuring the safety of our roadways for motorists and first responders is our primary goal,” McMurry said.

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