Lou Hatter 540-829-7537
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CULP 2009-126

Nov. 24, 2009

Afton Mountain fog light system upgraded to improve reliability, save energy

CULPEPER — The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) recently replaced the 841 lamps in the fog light system on Interstate 64 on Afton Mountain. The incandescent lights originally installed in 1997 were replaced with LED lamps that will require less maintenance and use about 75 percent less energy.

The fog light system helps to safely guide motorists during bad weather and low visibility, which is a frequent occurrence on Afton Mountain. The lights are installed along the edges of the roadway from milepost 98 in Augusta County to milepost 104 in Albemarle County. The system is designed for airports and is the only non-runway application of the lights in Virginia.

The fog lights have helped drivers negotiate Afton Mountain since 1976 when the first system was installed. That first system, which was manually controlled from a building at the summit of Afton Mountain, was overhauled and modernized in 1996; those lights have been in service until the recent replacement project. The fog light system is now activated by VDOT’s Traffic Operations Center (TOC) in Staunton and the messages on several electronic message signs along I-64 can be varied depending on the weather conditions on the mountain.

Repairs to the old lights had become difficult since some parts were no longer available and maintenance was becoming more costly. Renovation of the fog light system and installation of the new, energy-efficient LED lamps took 10 months and cost approximately $1.3 million. The new LED lamps are expected to have a longer service life, which will lower maintenance costs and improve reliability.

The fog light system is designed to help drivers see the edges of the roadway and avoid running off the road during extremely low-visibility conditions, which are frequent on Afton Mountain due to the weather conditions there. Even with the lights, however, drivers must still reduce their speed and increase following distance during foggy conditions since the light system will not help them see other vehicles on the road. In extremely low visibility conditions the system is automatically activated and the message signs direct motorists to reduce their speed.

In addition to the fog lights and electronic message signs, VDOT maintains traffic cameras on I-64 in Augusta and Albemarle counties that help the Staunton TOC to monitor traffic and provide drivers with information about weather and other traffic conditions as they approach the mountain. Those cameras and message signs, along with messages on VDOT’s 511 telephone information system, keep drivers current about weather conditions on Afton Mountain and assist with VDOT’s response to severe weather or emergency incidents.

Drivers can also call 511 from any telephone in Virginia to receive real-time information about weather as well as weather forecasts and traffic conditions for interstates and major highways across the state. And, before they leave, motorists can get real-time traffic and travel information, weather conditions and forecasts, and live traffic cameras from many intestates and primary highways, including I-64, on the Web at

Highway safety is everyone’s responsibility. Virginia’s highway safety partnership — the Virginia Department of Transportation, Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles and Virginia State Police — challenges you to help prevent highway fatalities. Buckle up. Avoid distractions. Share the road. Drive drug- and alcohol-free. Obey speed limits.  For more information on the Highway Safety Challenge and things you can do to avoid becoming Virginia’s next traffic fatality, visit


Information in VDOT news releases was accurate at the time the release was published. For the most current information about projects or programs, please visit the project or program Web pages. You may find those by searching by keyword in the search Virginia DOT box above.

Page last modified: Oct. 17, 2012