News Briefs

Pedestrian Go In Circles

Pedestrian  roundabout from above

May 10, 2021: A new multimodal project in the Northern Virginia District of the Virginia Department of Transportation brought something you don’t see every day.

Cyclists, runners and walkers are among those using a roundabout on the south side of the Custis Trail under Interstate 66 in Arlington.

The roundabout minimized impact to nearby trees and improved safety and sightlines.

Only two trees came down. A realignment would require removing 30.

West of the roundabout, the Custis Trail connects to the popular Washington and Old Dominion Trail.

Here, the project includes a new bicycle and pedestrian bridge over Lee Highway (Route 29) in Falls Church.

More than than 2,000 commuters and visitors utilize these trails a day.

The roundabout and bridge are just two of several multimodal improvements related to the I-66 Inside the Beltway project.

The project added a new travel lane along four miles of eastbound I-66 in late 2020, and a new direct access ramp from eastbound I-66 to the West Falls Church Metro Station at the Route 7 interchange is coming later this year.

Bridge Re-Building

April 12, 2021: The Benjamin Harrison Memorial Bridge, a movable steel structure connecting Prince George and Charles City counties since 1966, is a trusted shortcut over the James River.

The bridge’s lift span allows for marine traffic and the transportation of goods into the commonwealth.

Over the decades, it has endured damaging winds, peregrine falcon habitation and even a devastating tanker ship crash in 1977.

By 2020, the bridge was due for extensive restoration work.

The Virginia Department of Transportation replaced the lifting cables as well as the drive clutches and aerial cables.

It was the first time such a cable replacement was done in Virginia.

This amount of work was impressive, as the construction season for the bridge is limited to June through February due to the peregrine falcon populations.

VDOT Richmond District Assistant Bridge Engineer John Lindemann P.E. oversaw the work.

He has been the bridge's manager for years.

He specializes in its history, challenges, emergency management and communication with the United States Coast Guard to coordinate deviations.

"On the maintenance side, John and Jeff Hill worked to ensure this project was completed," said Richmond District Maintenance Engineer Sean Nelson.

“The effort between our maintenance and construction divisions, and the contractor, was key.”

The first round was complete in January. There’s more to do.

Plans call for a new generator in 2021. It will fully power the bridge should electricity from the shore go out.

Aerial cables will replace the submarine cables that are original to the structure.

Tree-Trimming Team-Building

April 7, 2021: When Amherst County needed a unique leadership training experience, Community Development Director Jeremy Bryant called Klaus Schreiber, an expert arborist at the Virginia Department of Transportation.

Schreiber, Lynchburg District roadside coordinator, is a Tree Risk Assessment Qualification-certified International Society of Arboriculture arborist with more than 30 years in the field.

In a previous role as urban forester with Lynchburg, he was responsible for the Tree Stewards.

They’re a group of “community volunteers committed to promoting health urban and rural forests in the metropolitan area” and city forces who performed vegetation maintenance.

Having worked with him, Bryant asked Schreiber to do a pruning workshop as a learning and team-building exercise for Amherst County leadership.

The basic principles of pruning were covered, including dos and don’ts..

The trees selected for workshop pruning were part of the Amherst County Gateway project along Business 29 in Madison Heights.

In 2019, VDOT approved the project and permit and the county planted the trees.

Schreiber's program was a success.

There are hopes it will encourage others to participate in beautification in Amherst County.

“I’m pleased Klaus was able to share some of his vast knowledge as an arborist with Amherst County’s leadership,” said Bill Lewis, Lynchburg District roadside manager.

“I hope his work will encourage these individuals to continue this in the future, in conjunction with VDOT’s environmental efforts.”

Page last modified: May 10, 2021