Jeffrey Caldwell 804-786-2715
May 20, 2009
VDOT FINALIZES SERVICE AREA PROPOSALS
Jamestown-Scotland Ferry Service Retained, Final Rest Area Closures Announced, Safety Service Patrols Reduced
RICHMOND – The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) announced today its final recommendations for service reductions around the state.
VDOT provided the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) the final recommendations for reductions to ferry services, rest areas, Safety Service Patrols, roadside maintenance and interstate maintenance contracts to address a $2.6 billion revenue shortfall.
The CTB will adopt VDOT’s fiscal year 2010 budget at its June meeting.
In February, VDOT announced plans to close 25 rest areas, cut service at the four state-owned ferry crossings around the commonwealth, reduce Safety Service Patrols and scale-back mowing and interstate maintenance contracts.
VDOT hosted 11 public meetings across the commonwealth before finalizing recommendations to the CTB.
“We resoundingly heard citizens’ recognition that VDOT provides vital services to all motorists, and that citizens recognize our difficult financial situation,” said VDOT Commissioner David S. Ekern. “We considered thousands of public suggestions as we finalized our recommendations. This resulted in some changes which allow us to reach our financial targets while meeting our customers’ most critical needs.”
VDOT proposes to retain current 24/7 operations at the Jamestown-Scotland Ferry in Hampton Roads, a change to the proposed reduction of eight hours of service. To offset the cost of retaining this service, VDOT will streamline internal operations to save $1.1 million annually. The agency also announced plans to pursue $30 million in funding to replace the oldest boat in the Jamestown-Scotland Ferry fleet.
VDOT also proposes that the Hatton Ferry near Charlottesville will be eliminated, and service hours at the Merry Point and Sunnybank ferries on the Northern Neck will be reduced.
If approved by the CTB, the $1.27 million in ferry service reductions will begin in July 2009.
Initial plans to save $12 million annually by closing 25 of the commonwealth’s 42 rest areas have been altered to address concerns about truck parking and travel distance between facilities on Interstate 81.
According to the commissioner, six rest areas initially slated to close will remain open, including four along the I-81 corridor (Radford south, Ironto north, Fairfield south and New Market north).
This would reduce the total number of rest areas from 42 to 23.
VDOT proposes to address truck parking concerns by retaining the two Interstate 95 Dale City truck-only facilities in Northern Virginia.
In response to industry requests, VDOT will propose replacing the “two-hour” commercial parking rule in rest areas with “no overnight parking” and will replace 225 truck parking spaces lost to facility closures by reconfiguring parking lots at some remaining facilities.
The commonwealth would also pursue federal law changes to allow future rest area commercialization.
If approved by the CTB, these changes represent $9 million in annual savings and will begin in July 2009.
Safety Service Patrols
VDOT proposed reconfiguring service delivery models, coverage areas and hours of service for Safety Service Patrols to save between $2 million and $5 million annually.
After receiving little public feedback on this proposed service cut, and to address reduced cost savings in other areas, VDOT reviewed the Safety Service Patrol program to find additional cost-savings.
The final recommendations for Safety Service Patrols eliminate private motorist assistance contracts and scale-back service to 2001 levels.
This leaves “roving” service patrols in Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia, and on-demand service in the other regions.
VDOT crews will be dispatched to address accidents or other issues in other areas of the state, but will not provide “roving” patrols.
These new service levels, if approved by the CTB, will begin in July 2009 and save $6.5 million per year.
Mowing and Interstate Maintenance Services
Recommendations to adjust VDOT’s mowing standards and private-sector interstate maintenance contracts received little feedback.
VDOT reduced $20 million in roadside services by changing the frequency of mowing and restricting aesthetic mowing, focusing instead on sight-distance mowing needs.
VDOT will renegotiate interstate maintenance contracts to focus on routine maintenance and emergency response.
This will save an estimated $8 million. VDOT is working with contractors to change the scope of their work, which could result in updated cost savings estimates as negotiations are completed.
Snow and Ice
Snow removal activities will not be impacted by any of these recommended reductions.
VDOT Facility Closings
Lastly, VDOT outlined the final listing of facility closures, including 15 VDOT’s field administrative units — called residencies — and streamlining equipment shops, materials labs and operations centers.
Responding to feedback from the public and localities, VDOT altered its residency consolidation plan by choosing to retain the Williamsburg Residency and instead close the Waverly Residency. In all, a total of 55 VDOT facilities will be closed or used for different purposes.
“We have lived our commitment to make these difficult business decisions with transparency and collect public input before we finalized our plan,” Ekern said. “We must meet our budget reduction targets, but we will protect our core mission to maintain the third-largest state-maintained highway system in the country and to ensure the safety of the traveling public.”
To learn more detail about VDOT’s recommendations and its Blueprint for the Future, visit http://www.virginiadot.org/newsroom/default.asp#blueprint
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.