Help is Only a Click Away - Innovative App Developed by FHWA helps States Recover Quickly After Natural Disasters
When natural disasters strike, efforts to get roads and bridges open to traffic again, especially when the damage is widespread and difficult to access, are critical. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) developed an app to replace detailed, time-consuming paper surveys and inspection reports on the damage required under the agency’s Emergency Relief (ER) and Emergency Relief for Federally Owned Roads (ERFO) programs.
MSAR was successfully piloted in 2016 but it was not until Hurricane Harvey in Texas that its real benefits were realized. Immediately after the water receded, FHWA's Texas division office, the Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT), and local public agency engineers used MSAR to make damage assessments.
- The MSAR system allows State and local agencies to gather data in the field by downloading the app to a cell phone or tablet, making the process faster and easier. A process that once took about 18 hours was shortened on average to just 20 minutes, resulting in savings of $1.2 million per disaster.
- When the TxDOT used the app after Hurricane Harvey in 2017, FHWA and TXDOT saved an estimated 17,000 hours of staff time.