News Briefs

Partnership Helps Falcon Chicks Leave the Nest

Bryan Watts with falcon chickJuly 19, 2016: VDOT ​​Hampton Roads District employees helped Bryan Watts (at right in photo), director of the Center for Conservation Biology, retrieve three young peregrine falcons from the south tower of the James River Bridge recently.

Robert Hewitt and Robbie Rhine of the Regional Movable Bridge Team escorted Watts, his assistant, District Assistant Environmental Manager Melissa Wolford and others into an elevator and up nearly 200 feet into the tower. 

From this level, Watts was able to reach a nesting box – installed through a partnership with VDOT, the Center for Conservation Biology and the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries – that housed the month-old falcons and their parents.

Each chick was banded for tracking, weighed and measured before being placed into carrying cases and transported to a wildlife preserve at Shenandoah National Park to increase their likelihood of survival and help restore the falcon population in the mountains.


New Midtown Tunnel Opens Early

New Midtown TunnelJuly 15, 2016: After much anticipation, the first lane of the new U.S. 58 Midtown Tunnel in the Hampton Roads District opened last month, six months ahead of schedule.

Secretary of Transportation Aubrey Layne, Commissioner Charlie Kilpatrick and VDOT Hampton Roads District Administrator Jim Utterback joined the CEO of Elizabeth River Crossings and the mayors of Norfolk and Portsmouth in celebrating the occasion.

Media were invited for a “first look,” as well as to interviews with project leads from VDOT, Elizabeth River Crossings and SKW Constructors. 

Then, with cameras rolling, vehicles traveling west into Portsmouth were stopped to shift the traffic pattern into the new tunnel.

The new tube is one element of a much larger transportation project to ease congestion and make travel across the Elizabeth River faster. 

The new two-lane tunnel eliminates bi-directional travel in the existing Midtown Tunnel, increasing safety for motorists. 

The second travel lane is scheduled to open later this summer. 

Read the news release.


VDOT Reinstalls Stone Highway Marker

road markerJune 28, 2016: ​Workers from VDOT's Chester Area Headquarters in the Richmond District reinstalled a historic stone highway marker along Route 1 in Manchester. 

The stone was left completely intact after being uprooted by a vehicular strike earlier this year. 

This allowed VDOT to learn more about the carving style of the bases of these markers in comparison to the stone that is visible above ground.

Charles Keck, owner of the property where the marker is located, made sure it was kept safe in a storage facility until VDOT was able to reinstall it.

VDOT maintains all historic stone markers within the state right of way. 

In 2013, another 19th-century marker was restored on Route 1 in Chesterfield. Learn more about the history of stone highway markers in Virginia, as well as about the 2013 restoration here.


Interns Come to Aid of Crashed Motorcyclist

Chris O'Hara and Benn QuannJune 26, 2016: Two interns at VDOT's Fredericksburg Residency had a memorable first week on the job.

Chris O’Hara, at right in photo, a rising senior at Virginia Tech, and Ben Quann, a rising senior at George Mason University, were marking trees for removal on River Road in Spotsylvania County, a scenic byway with tight curves. 

They had doubled back to mark a tree they’d missed when a driver jumped out of a car and approached, telling them a motorcyclist had just run off the road. 

Could they help?

Both had a full set of personal protective equipment. After alerting their supervisor, they stayed with the motorcyclist until medical help arrived and then provided traffic control at the scene. 

A sign crew from Chancellor Area Headquarters that happened to be traveling in the area also assisted.

Staunton District Reaches Bridge Milestone

Maury River bridges on I-64June 13, 2016: VDOT's Staunton District had “zero” to celebrate on May 9. 

On that date, drivers on Interstate 64 in Rockbridge County began using a median crossover to share the newly rehabilitated eastbound bridge over the Maury River. 

At that moment the westbound span was taken out of service and the district had no structurally deficient bridges on its interstate system.

The district maintains 429 interstate structures on 235 miles of I-64, 81 and 66. Most have stood since the original construction of I-81 more than half a century ago. 

Continual maintenance, including deck repairs and overlays, patching, superstructure painting and deck replacements, maximize in-service life.

“We operate an extensive bridge preventative maintenance and preservation program,” said Staunton District Bridge Manager Rex Pearce. “Decades of exhaustive assessment, use of innovative materials and methods, relentless attention to immediate repairs – all contributed to this most recent milestone. Each bridge employee deserves congratulations.”

The Staunton and Culpeper districts both have no structurally deficient ratings on their interstate structures, contributing to the statewide 98 percent health rating of this system.


Page last modified: July 19, 2016