HERO roadside assistance program to expand statewide

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LEDE PHOTO - Dec. 24, 2015 Atlanta: GDOT HERO operator, Griff Singleton walks past the HERO truck where a Georgia Department of Transportation Highway Emergency Response Operator was hit by a pickup truck and injured while working a wreck in Midtown during Thursday's predawn storms Dec. 24, 2015. The incident happened about 4:45 a.m. on the northbound I-75 HOV ramp at the Brookwood Interchange. According to the Georgia State Patrol, HERO driver Christopher D. Seslar was putting out flares to block the roadway after an earlier wreck when he was hit by a 1998 Ford pickup truck. The pickup driver, Richard K. Hutto, 38, of Fitzgerald, apparently struck a guard rail first, then over-corrected and hit Seslar, a GSP spokesperson said in an email. Hutto, who was not injured, was charged with reckless driving, failure to maintain lane, driving too fast for conditions, driving on a suspended license, failure to exercise due care and to obey the state's "move over" law that requires drivers to move over a lane when approaching an emergency vehicle. Channel 2 Action News reported that Seslar was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital in stable condition. JOHN SPINK /JSPINK@AJC.COM


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GDOT HERO operator Griff Singleton walks past Georgia Department of Transportation Highway Emergency Response Operator truck in Midtown Dec. 24, 2015.  JOHN SPINK /JSPINK@AJC.COM

A popular Georgia Department of Transportation program to help clear accidents and help motorists stranded on metro Atlanta interstates will soon be expanded statewide.

GDOT has issued a request for potential bidders for a new roadside assistance and maintenance program. Though known in metro Atlanta as the HERO (Highway Emergency Response Operators) program, that is not likely to be the name for the new statewide service, said GDOT spokeswoman Natalie Dale.

HERO drivers act as guardian angels for motorists with vehicle maintenance issues such as flat tires or empty gas tanks. Their brightly painted yellow vehicles and portable signage help alert other drivers to the presence of a disabled vehicle. HERO drivers also can remove debris in the road; tag or remove abandoned vehicles; report damaged signs, rails or posts; and help police respond to crash scenes to get them cleared quickly.

Motorists can call 511 to request assistance from a HERO driver.

The expansion of the state’s roadside assistance program will be paid for with an influx of new revenue received following the General Assembly’s passage last year of House Bill 170, a sweeping transportation funding bill, according to GDOT.

READ MORE: New money for Georgia roads pouring in

The cost for providing the expanded service is still to be determined, said Dale. The existing HERO program, which operates only in metro Atlanta, costs about $10 million a year to cover 382 miles of freeways. About $8 million of that comes from the federal government and the remainder comes from corporate sponsorship by State Farm.

Potential vendors must respond by April 28. The winning contractor will provide the staffing and vehicles and manage their deployment.

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