Florida Dept. of Transportation issues new hurricane evacuation rules

When a hurricane hits, no one wants to be stuck in traffic trying to evacuate. The Florida Department of Transportation updated its evacuation plan and will now let you drive on the shoulder of certain roads during major hurricane evacuations.

MORE: FDOT – Emergency Shoulder Use

Before Hurricane Irma caused devastation in September 2017, the roads were being evacuated and became increasingly crowded. The FDOT allowed drivers to use the shoulder of the road because of the emergency. This season, the department said they would go to emergency shoulder use again on certain roadways during hurricane evacuations to handle the massive amount of cars.

Before Hurricane Irma, the state temporarily redirected some southbound lanes north. Florida Highway Patrol told WINK News earlier this month why the emergency shoulder is the better option.

“The reason we do that is because we still need to bring assets in SB,” said FHP Lt. Greg Bueno. “Can you imagine getting up to MLK Blvd. And you’re like, ‘Ugh, I gotta go back.’ Well, how are you going to get back?”

Lt. Bueno said this decision would also save evacuees some confusion.

During a major evacuation, the state will allow all vehicles to use the shoulder of the road, except for trucks, buses and trailers. Law enforcement and signage will be there to warn drivers when the shoulder use ends. When the shoulder use ends, drivers will be able to merge back into travel lanes.

“If you’re waiting until the last minute to leave I can assure you, a lot of other people are too,” Lt. Bueno said. “If you’re proactive and have a plan, then that’s going to increase your confidence level.”

In Southwest Florida, the following roadways will allow for emergency shoulder use:

  • Interstate 75 – Northbound from SR-951 in Naples (Collier County) to SR-143 in Jennings (Hamilton County)
  • Interstate 75 Alligator Alley – Northbound from U.S. 27 in Weston (Broward County) to SR-951 in Naples (Collier County) — Southbound from SR 951 in Naples (Collier County) to US 27 in Weston (Broward County)
Reporter:Sara Girard
Writer:Michael Mora
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