Staunton District Reaches Bridge Milestone
June 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.
Students See Math Work Outside the Classroom
June 10, 2016: Many high school students ask, “Will I ever use any of this math when I get out?”
The opportunity to answer that question presented itself recently when VDOT's Lynchburg District Land Use Engineer Ken Carlton (at left in photo) and other professionals were invited to E.C. Glass High School in Lynchburg to show trigonometry students how land surveyors do, in fact, use math every day in their professions.
Each class was challenged to use surveying equipment and trigonometric formulae to determine the top elevation of a nearby smokestack without climbing the structure.
The equipment included a state-of-the-art 3D laser scanner that can gather millions of survey points within a matter of minutes. The students were then able to view the 3D image on a laptop computer.
“It certainly wowed me,” Ken said. “Survey equipment technology has really evolved since I last did any land surveying.”
The outdoor presentation was also an opportunity for the students to consider possible careers such as land surveying, engineering and construction.
Lighted Flagging Paddles Help Alert Drivers to Work Zones
June 9, 2016: Flaggers help control traffic in work zones. But close calls can occur when distracted drivers don’t spot a flagger’s stop/slow paddle sign soon enough.
Flaggers have been known to dive into roadside ditches to avoid being struck when drivers hit the brakes too late.
To help get drivers’ attention sooner and keep our workers safe, VDOT is employing new flagging paddles with flashing light-emitting diodes.
The benefits have already been noted by some, particularly in overcast or low-light conditions and during inclement weather.
The Gordonsville Area Headquarters in the Culpeper District recently heard positive feedback from a local police officer, who credited the flashing lights for helping him see an early-morning work zone setup in plenty of time to slow down.
Engineers in Service
May 25, 2016: Nicholas J. Roper, a VDOT Northern Virginia District project development engineer, recently spoke during graduation ceremonies where his own career began, the U.S. Army Engineer School at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.
Roper, a retired colonel and engineer officer who served 28 years in the Army and Army Reserve, said it was a privilege to return to the school and speak to new soldiers just beginning their service.
Making it more special was that his son, Pvt. Christopher J. Roper, was walking in the graduating class.
“His look of astonishment while I was speaking was priceless,” Roper said. “For years, he knew I was in the Army, but when I came home, the uniform came off and I was ‘Dad.’ At that moment, he saw me as a soldier for the first time.”
Chris is assigned to the 461st Engineer Company of the Army Reserve in Fargo, North Dakota. He is preparing to mobilize for duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Talking Education And Career Paths
May 24, 2016: VDOT Culpeper District staff was invited recently to visit engineering students at Germanna Community College and share information about VDOT’s pipeline programs and career paths.
Jan Pearce, human resources manager, provided an overview of the agency’s core development and internship programs.
Hydraulics engineer Shelly Plaster shared her personal journey through community college and Old Dominion University’s four-year engineering program, a path that nearly all of the 20 students she spoke with are slated to follow.
Plaster said the pipeline programs are an opportunity she wished she’d known about as she prepared to enter the workforce.
“These diverse opportunities for field experience not only help build your resume, they also help you decide if VDOT is the right fit for you,” said district construction engineer Ken Connors.
To build a continued relationship with the college, the district has agreed to visit engineering cohorts each fall before the pipeline program recruitment period.