Celebrating the New Route 613 Bridge
Nov. 21, 2014: Years of planning and collaboration went into the Route 613 “Indian Hollow” bridge over the South Fork of the Shenandoah River in Warren County. VDOT and county officials recently cut the ribbon on the new bridge and celebrated the partnerships that created it.
The structure is 14 feet higher than the narrow, low-water crossing it replaces.
“The old bridge was under water for a total of 38 days just during this construction project,” noted Dixon Whitworth, Staunton District representative on the Commonwealth Transportation Board. “The new bridge height will let traffic continue and that benefits everyone who depends on this route.”
Indian Hollow sees a few hundred vehicles a day during most of the year, but it’s a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts.
The bridge is surrounded by a state park and a national forest, and provides vital access to a nearby campground, river outfitter, and public boat launch.
“I look forward to coming back and seeing the recreation and enjoyment around this bridge,” said Whitworth, “and I might throw in a fishing pole myself.”
An Innovative Replacement
Nov. 12, 2014: Hardly a week goes by without VDOT improving driver safety by replacing an outdated, structurally deficient bridge.
But the new Route 703 crossing in Augusta County pays homage to the original.
In mid-September, the Staunton District’s Verona bridge crew removed the 1915, one-lane truss bridge that carries Route 703 over the Middle River near the community of Swoope.
Low traffic counts allowed VDOT to replace it with a new single-lane span of a similar design, complete with wooden decking and galvanized steel trusses.
The district bridge team also worked with neighbors and a local historical society to preserve the original masonry abutments and retaining walls.
On the afternoon of Oct. 28, a crane lifted the new truss bridge into place and crew members began securing it to the abutments.
VDOT works to protect historic assets whenever possible, and the Route 703 bridge will serve as an example of that commitment when it opens to traffic in mid-November.
Volunteering For The Community
Oct. 29, 2014: What would you do if you had two days to help someone in the community?
Each year, employees with the Commonwealth of Virginia receive up to 16 hours of community service leave to volunteer with eligible nonprofit groups.
Some employees choose to use the hours by attending school events, helping with Little League or assisting the homeless.
Employees with VDOT's Southwest Regional Operations Traffic Engineering section in the Salem District arranged a volunteer day with Roanoke Valley Habitat for Humanity as a team-building exercise.
“It was a great opportunity to serve our community and have fun,” said Anne Booker, acting regional traffic engineer.
The group helped hang drywall in a Roanoke home slated to be dedicated to a family in December. “I see the talents of my co-workers in their VDOT roles every day,” said Booker. “I was impressed by the skills they had in home building, too.”
The Salem District’s Location and Design section and the Martinsville residency have participated in team volunteer opportunities with Habitat and the Henry County Parks and Recreation Department.
Several other VDOT groups will participate in the near future.
Oct. 21, 2014: Each day school buses around the commonwealth transport precious cargo.
Riding a school bus is the safest way for children to travel to and from school. However, the time getting on or off the bus can potentially be dangerous.
To bring attention to school bus safety, October 20 to 24 is designated National School Bus Safety Week.
Take time this week to review the correct ways to approach and exit school buses with your children. Motorists should also review their driving behaviors when they encounter school bus stops.
• Walk with your kids to the bus stop and wait with them until it arrives.
• Wait for the bus to come to a complete stop before approaching or exiting the bus.
• Teach kids to look left, right and left again before crossing the street.
• Drivers should never pass a stopped school bus.
• Drivers should approach school bus stops cautiously even if a bus is not in the area.
Virginia Capital Trail Update: 29 Miles Complete
Oct. 17, 2014: On Wednesday, VDOT officially opened the much-anticipated Sherwood Forest phase of the Virginia Capital Trail in Charles City County.
With this 12-mile phase completed, bicyclists and pedestrians now enjoy approximately 29 miles of continuous travel along the trail.
The project and construction teams have taken great care to preserve the historical, cultural and natural resources along the trail, especially the tree canopy that lines scenic Route 5.
Richmond District Administrator Tom Hawthorne was joined by Virginia First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe, Sen. Donald McEachin, Charles Donato, chairman of the Virginia Capital Trail Foundation and other officials to cut the ribbon on the new trail.
While rain dampened plans to hold the event outside, nearly 300 supporters packed into the Charles City County auditorium to celebrate the completion.
“This trail is an asset to the residents and visitors of Virginia,” said McAuliffe. “It offers a free and safe place for Virginians to get moving…while showcasing our beautiful outdoor spaces.”
Four additional phases are under construction in Henrico County. The entire Virginia Capital Trail is expected to be complete next year.
Once finished, approximately 50 miles of trail will connect Richmond with the Jamestown trail head.
Career Fair Turns 10
Oct. 10, 2014: The VDOT Northern Virginia District Civil Rights Office, along with the Federal Highway Administration, hosted the 10th annual Transportation Career Fair at the Prince William Fairgrounds recently.
This year’s event had a record-breaking 91 registered exhibitors, along with 130 pieces of equipment on display. That’s up from 72 exhibitors last year and 117 pieces of equipment.
“We were able to expose more than 1,000 high school students to the many rewarding and diverse careers in the transportation industry,” said VDOT Civil Rights Manager Leslie Martin.
The purpose of the annual event is to encourage and prepare students for careers in transportation-related fields, such as engineering, architecture, technology, environmental engineering, construction and support services.
The event also aims to provide information for students to understand how various disciplines can result in careers in the transportation and construction industries.
There were displays, demonstrations, hands-on participation, presentations, contests, giveaways, scholarship opportunities and the chance for students to learn about the many careers associated with all aspects of transportation. Exhibitors included large corporations, small firms, organizations, institutions of higher learning, governmental agencies and VDOT representatives.
The event was supported by sponsors including the Heavy Construction Contracting Association and the Lane Construction Corporation.
Groundbreaking on Gloucester Parkway Extension
Oct. 2, 2014: Construction is under way to extend Gloucester Parkway, as VDOT Northern Virginia District staff and Loudoun County officials broke ground Tuesday, Sept. 30.
The $40 million project completes the roadway from the Loudoun County Parkway to the intersection of Pacific and Nokes boulevards, filling an important gap in the local road network.
“When complete, the project will provide an additional east-west route connecting the Ashburn community and the Route 28 corridor,” said Susan Shaw, VDOT’s design-build program manager in northern Virginia. “Within the first year of opening, Gloucester Parkway is expected to carry more than 10,000 vehicles per day that currently use Route 7 to the north and Waxpool Road to the south to travel to and from Ashburn.”
When the project opens in 2016, the new 0.8-mile, four-lane divided segment will include a new bridge over Broad Run, intersection improvements at Loudoun County Parkway (Route 607) and Pacific Boulevard (Route 1036), and trail and sidewalk improvements.
Traffic signals will also be constructed at both of the intersections.
The $40 million project is being built with 100 percent Loudoun County funding. Shirley Contracting Co. LLC is the design-build contractor.
Visit the Gloucester Parkway Extension project page for more details.
A Step in the Right Direction
Sept. 29, 2014: Put on your walking shoes, take your child’s hand and walk them to school on International Walk to School Day, Wednesday, Oct. 8.
VDOT’s Safe Routes to School and Transportation Alternatives programs provide a well-rounded approach to dealing with the issues that prevent kids from walking or biking to school.
“International Walk to School Day encourages healthy habits and entices parents and children to walk together when they might not have considered it,” said Rob Williams, coordinator of VDOT’s Safe Routes to School program. “Our hope is that walking to school changes from a once-a-year activity into something more frequent…once a month, once a week or even a daily habit.”
Over the years, Virginia’s participating schools have steadily increased from 10 in 2004 to an impressive 187 last year. The state goal this year is 200 schools.
The statewide program is funded by the U.S. Federal Highway Administration and works with localities, schools and non-profit groups to improve walking or bicycling opportunities for children in kindergarten through eighth grades.
For more information, go to http://www.walkbiketoschool.org/.