Operating costs for Tennessee DOT’s HELP program were $6.5 million for FY 2005-06.

September 2006
Chattanooga,Tennessee,United States; Knoxville,Tennessee,United States; Memphis,Tennessee,United States

Summary Information

The Tennessee DOT (TDOT) HELP program began in July 1999 for the purpose of reducing traffic congestion, improving safety, and assisting motorists in distress. HELP is a component of TDOT's intelligent transportation system (ITS) - SmartWay.

HELP operates on the most heavily traveled routes in Tennessee's four major cities: Chattanooga, Knoxville, Memphis, and Nashville. HELP patrols 189 centerline miles on a routine basis. Hours of operation are from early morning to late evening, 7-days a week except for four holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years Day, and Fourth of July). In addition to conducting regular patrols on Tennessee's most heavily traveled roads, HELP units respond to requests from the Tennessee Highway Patrol to assist with crashes outside the normal patrol areas as well as provide assistance at special events that create additional demand on the transportation system.

The HELP program employs 85 staff and operates three shifts of operators, working supervisors, and dispatchers. The HELP operators and supervisors are trained and equipped to respond to incidents, and are certified as emergency medical "First Responders." The HELP fleet consists of 69 trucks. During FY 2005-2006 12 new trucks were purchased.

Operating costs for FY 2005-2006 were approximately $5.7 million which included salaries, vehicle operation and maintenance, fuel, supplies, and other related operating costs. Amortization of trucks and equipment added approximately $800,000 per year. The annualized value was estimated using a 5-year life for the trucks; however, based on TDOT experience trucks are kept in service in excess of 5 years. Total annual operating cost for FY 2005-2006 was $6.5 million.

The majority of funds for the initial HELP startup costs were federal: Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) for Knoxville, Memphis, and Nashville; and Surface Transportation Program (STP) for Chattanooga. Operating costs for FY 2005-2006 were paid from state and federal STP funds. TDOT plans to use a mix of state and federal funds in the future.

See also: link to the HELP Annual Operating Report, July 1, 2004 - June 30, 2005 system cost summary.

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HELP Annual Operating Report: July 1, 2005 - June 30, 2006

Author: Office of Highway Incident Management, Tennessee Department of Transportation

Published By: Office of Highway Incident Management, Tennessee Department of Transportation

Source Date: September 2006


System Cost

Operating cost: $6.5 million.


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Related Unit Cost Subsystems

Transportation Management Center (TM)


freeway service patrol, courtesy patrols, highway helpers, freeway service patrols

Cost ID: 2007-00119