As the primary agency responsible for the safe and effective movement of vehicles and pedestrians, the District Department of Transportation is committed to ensuring residents, visitors, and businesses are prepared to use the transportation system in the District of Columbia and the National Capitol Region during an emergency. Working closely with our Federal, Virginia, and Maryland partners, the District Department of Transportation has taken a number of steps to ensure our plans are coordinated and up to date with best practices.
The updated “Transportation Tips During an Emergency Incident” pamphlet [PDF] provides general advice in determining whether and how you should evacuate, on creating a family emergency plan which includes a mobile access plan and general transportation tips for dealing with emergencies.
If evacuation is necessary, DDOT has identified nineteen (19) principal evacuation routes to evacuate the District. These routes can also help drivers get into and out of our city during major non-emergency events, such as July 4th. Additionally, signage on these routes will assist visitors and others who travel our roads every day and may not be familiar with out transportation system. The guide also contains tips on various means to obtain information during an emergency.
We hope you find the information helpful to you and your family in preparing for emergencies as well as moving about our city and our region everyday. We invite you to visit our website for updates, helpful links, and additional DDOT services.
General Transportation Tips
- During an emergency, Stop! Listen to the message – Unless otherwise directed by authorities to evacuate, staying in your location is usually the most prudent course of action unless in the immediate danger area.
- Do not assume that you should evacuate. If evacuation is appropriate, listen for the message indicating direction to proceed and signs to follow. Information will be provided to the public through the media. Your best initial action is to “shelter in place” and stay attentive to media broadcasts.
- Be prepared to walk or use public transportation. Metrobus and Metrorail will be operating at full service unless otherwise told by authorities. View the latest Metrorail map .
- If you leave your vehicle, make sure it is secure and not blocking the roadway. It is also advised not to park along an evacuation route as parking could become restricted.
- If you are leaving by a car, check with your neighbor or coworkers to see if you can carpool.
Create a Family Emergency Plan and Include a Mobile Access Plan
- Discuss with your family what each member should do in an emergency.
- Pick a friend or relative that all family members can call if separated (consider an out-of-state point of contact as it may be easier to call out of state during an emergency than in the local area).
- Prepare an emergency Go Kit (the kit should have a 3-day supply of food, water, medical items, first aid supplies, a flashlight, radio batteries, etc.).
- Become familiar with the District’s Family Preparedness Guide which is available through the Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency, and online at dcema.dc.gov .
- Mobile Access Plan (MAP) When developing your family emergency plan, it is critical for you to have a plan that addresses your transportation needs. Listed are some points to consider and resources you may need.
- Normal and alternative routes between work and home and other commonly visited locations.
- Potential family meeting locations.
- Alternative routes and plans in the event the Metrorail, your personal vehicle, or Metrobus are unavailable.
- Listing of important numbers like your vehicle insurance company and emergency roadside assistance.
- Maps of the region in case normal routes are closed and you need to select alternative routes.
- In reference to your children and your children’s schools, know the schools emergency plan for moving students. Know the procedures for releasing students, to ensure carpooling is an option.
- If possible, plan to take your pets with you when you evacuate. Ensure the place you are headed to allows for pets.
- If using Metrorail, know the rules for transporting pets (only in approved carriers).
Evacuation Route Information
- Nineteen (19) streets radiating from downtown Washington, DC are identified as emergency event/evacuation routes [PDF]. The routes extend to the Capital Beltway (I-495) and beyond. Visit HSEMA's Evacuation Route Lookup to view the routes.
- Outbound signs direct motorists to I-495 in Maryland and Virginia Inbound signs show images of monuments (see below). Evacuation routes are also identified by street name signs, which include the red and white District flag (3 red stars located above 2 red bars) and a blue evacuation sign attached.
- Traffic signals (lights) will be timed to move traffic away from the event/ incident area across jurisdictions efficiently.
- Critical Intersections on the emergency evacuation routes within Washington, DC will be staffed by uniformed law enforcement and traffic control officers to expedite vehicle and pedestrian traffic.
- All drivers should remember to obey all traffic laws and be mindful of pedestrians and bicyclists.
- Evacuation routes may be used as ingress routes to bring people into DC should the evacuation of a jurisdiction in the Washington Metropolitan Region become necessary. Event conditions in an evacuation may also require identified evacuation routes to become dedicated ingress routes.
HIGHWAY ADVISORY RADIO
The District of Columbia has a Highway Advisory Radio (HAR) station (1650 AM) to provide motorists with information regarding incidents and/or emergencies in the DC area.
EMERGENCY ALERT SYSTEM
In the event of a serious emergency, the District of Columbia may activate the Emergency Alert System (EAS).The EAS permits local government possible or actual local emergencies. The primary radio stations (FM/AM) to listen to in the District include the following:
- News Radio — WTOP 103.5 FM/103.9 FM | WPGC 95.5 FM | WHUR 96.3 FM | WMAL 630 AM
VARIABLE MESSAGE SIGNS
In the event of an emergency, variable message signs will be posted on key routes throughout the city to provide information to motorists on road conditions and any other critical information.
In the event of an evacuation, the following bike trails can be used by cyclists and/or pedestrians:
- Rock Creek Park Trail
- C&O Canal Tow Path Trail
- Capital Crescent Trail
- Suitland Parkway Trail
- Custis Trail (I-66)
- Mt. Vernon Trail (via 14th Street Bridge)
Information on bicycle commuting and trails: www.goDCgo.com , www.waba.org , www.bikewashington.org and www.commuterconnections.org .
Key Telephone Numbers
- DC Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency
- Police Non-Emergencies
- MPD Command Center (24/7 line for reporting suspicious activities)
- Mayor’s Citywide Call Center
- Washington Regional Threat and Analysis Center'
- DC Water - (Water and Sewer Authority Emergency Number)
- Washington Gas (Natural Gas Emergency Number)
- PEPCO - (Life-threatening Emergencies)
- Department of Homeland Security
For More Information and Questions
OTHER WEBSITES AND TELEPHONE NUMBERS TO REMEMBER ARE:
- 911 • Non-Emergencies 311
- Mayor’s Citywide Call Center:
- DC Homeland Security & Emergency Management Agency (HSEMA):
- Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA):
- Metropolitan Police Department (MPD):
- DC Department of Health (DOH):
- Fire and Emergency Medical Services (FEMS):