The Cape Cod Emergency Traffic Plan (CCETP) has been developed to facilitate egress of the high volume of traffic from Cape Cod in the event of a hurricane, particularly during the peak tourist season. Although developed for a hurricane scenario, this ‘All Hazards’ Plan has been designed to be utilized in a number of emergency situations. The CCETP is not an evacuation plan, but rather is a traffic management plan that can be used under any circumstance when public safety officials deem it necessary to implement Phase 1 to facilitate the flow of traffic off of the Cape. The plan may be implemented if there is an evacuation for parts of the Cape or when a large number of people elect to leave the Cape even if there is no evacuation request or order. In a hurricane it is unlikely that there would ever be a need to evacuate the entire Cape. Rather, people in vulnerable low lying areas may be asked to evacuate to safer, higher ground areas on the Cape, including to nearby public shelters.
This plan was initiated following Hurricane Edouard, which approached Cape Cod on Labor Day 1996. Within hours of the Governor’s Declaration of a State of Emergency, a 6-8 hour backup, stretching an estimated 40 miles occurred from the Sagamore Bridge to the Orleans Rotary along Route 6, due in large part to the challenges presented by the highway’s rotaries and on-ramps. The goal of the Plan is to eliminate the causes of congestion in the areas of the Bourne and Sagamore Bridges, as well as on Routes 6 and 28, the main arteries leading to them. Free flowing off-Cape traffic is the primary concern of the Plan.
The Plan, which is revisited and exercised annually, has been reduced to Two Phases. In simple terms, once initiated, Phase I activates 90% of the plan. This eliminates off-Cape access to Routes 6 and 28 at the base of both Bridges, prohibits local traffic access to these main arteries through the rotaries and prohibits all cross-rotary traffic. These prohibited merges are offset by providing detours around the congestion areas to points on Route 6 and Route 28 where entering/merging will not affect the primary traffic flow. These new traffic patterns will be accomplished by traffic coordination of Massachusetts State Police at crucial travel points, a series of prepositioned informational signs set up by MassDOT and continual Media announcements.
Phase II is activated when the Army Corps of Engineers, MassDOT, MA State Police and MEMA determine that winds have reached or are about to reach dangerous levels, precipitating the closure of all traffic on the Bridges. Past versions of the CCETP tied closure of the bridges to specific wind-speed thresholds. In the most recent Plan, the decision will depend on a variety of additional factors such as forecast, time of day, traffic and road conditions. Once the bridges are closed, any motorists still on the road will then have the option of seeking their own shelter (including at local community shelters) or going to the designated temporary shelter at Joint Base Cape Cod (formerly known as the Massachusetts Military Reservation at Camp Edwards) until the storm passes.
The Cape Cod Emergency Traffic Plan has been developed by the cooperative efforts of federal, state and local partners. Participants in this process have included representatives of MEMA, MA State Police, MA National Guard, MassDOT, American Red Cross, Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Coast Guard, MA Department of Public Health, Cape Cod Medical Reserve Corps, State of Massachusetts Animal Emergency Response Team (SMART), National Weather Service, Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce, Barnstable County Sheriff’s Department, WQRC-Radio and numerous Public Safety Personnel from the potentially impacted communities from Bourne to Provincetown and the Islands.
Full plan: Cape Cod Emergency Traffic Plan file size 1MB
One page map (excerpt from full plan) Cape Cod Traffic Plan Map file size 3MB
Hear MEMA's interview with WQRC 99.9 FM about the Cape Cod Emergency Traffic Plan: Cape Cod Traffic Plan Discussion with WQRC August 2012 AUDIO file size 8MB