driving along I-4 Saturday from Tampa to Orlando may wonder if
the DOT has undertaken some new radical roadside inspection program.
reportedly will take on the look of a war zone, complete with
National Guard troops, Humvees and olive drab trucks, as part
of a hurricane drill. The state is trying to figure out how long
it will take to turn 63 miles of interstate from Tampa to Orlando
into a one-way eastbound escape route.
may remember when Hurricane Floyd moved up the state's east coast
in 1999 and 3 million people made a "b-line" to escape
the storm's wrath. The resulting gridlock spawned this unusual
To test response
times, about 100 soldiers, 125 state troopers and 50 to 60 state
transportation department workers will take up posts along the
stretch of highway on Saturday.
soldiers, along with Humvees, trucks and other equipment, will
be stationed at highway ramps, and troopers and DOT workers will
share space with about 3,000 orange traffic cones stacked along
the freeway shoulders.
lighted message boards will give drivers a heads-up on the drill
as they approach the test area. Officials say travelers won't
be delayed - except for the inevitable rubberneckers. No barricades
will be put in place, and the freeway will remain open to normal
is a last resort, to be used only before a Category 4 or 5 hurricane
makes landfall. The test will start at 8 a.m. and is expected
to last six to eight hours.