News Briefs

Road Construction Ahead Moves to New Format

road construction ahead mapJan. 10, 2017: Road Construction Ahead has moved to a new format using Google Maps, allowing better compatibility with various browser types.

Available on the VDOT website, Road Construction Ahead maps major highway construction projects in all districts and provides brief details about each, including traffic impacts. 

The current map reflects those that are in progress from January to April. Communications compiles the projects and completes the design work on the map three times annually.

“The new format will allow more users, including those on Apple iOS devices, to view upcoming projects that may affect their travel,” Communications Director Tamara Rollison said.

Road Construction Ahead can be found under “Travel Center” on


MLK Expressway Extension Opens Early

MLK ExtensionJan. 5, 2017: The Elizabeth River Tunnels (ERT) Project reached another milestone when the Martin Luther King (MLK) Extension opened a month ahead of schedule. 

The 1.2-mile extension of Route 164/U.S. 58 joins Interstate 264, creating a seamless connection between the Downtown and Midtown tunnels in Portsmouth.

The MLK Extension is part of a $2.1 billion infrastructure project that also built a new Midtown Tunnel and involves rehabilitating the existing Midtown and Downtown tunnels and operating and maintaining the tunnels for another 53 years.

The freeway extension was constructed almost completely by Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBE) and Small, Women and Minority Owned (SWaM) businesses. 

That allowed the ERT Project to reach one of the highest DBE and SWaM goals on a major transportation project in Virginia.

The public’s response to the new connection has been positive. One motorist tweeted, “Saved 10 minutes off our commute! And no stop & go, so gas savings too!”


Lexington Residency Unveils New Weapon for Winter

Lexington salt storageJan. 4, 2016: ​No matter what Mother Nature brings in 2017 – and many winters to come – the VDOT Staunton District Lexington Residency will be ready.

A massive new salt-storage facility next to the residency offices was completed in November and promptly filled with 5,000 tons of salt and 1,000 tons of abrasives.

 At 168 feet by 82 feet, the barnlike building is large enough for tractor-trailers to drive inside and back right up to the piles of material.

 It’s also tall enough for them to fully raise their truck beds for quick delivery.

The new building is close to the junction of Interstates 64 and 81, and centrally located for distributing vital supplies to Rockbridge, Alleghany, Bath and Highland counties, said Assistant Residency Administrator Mike Henry. 

“This will serve as a staging area for local storm events and provide additional re-supply capability for other salt storage facilities throughout the residency and Staunton District.”


VDOT Staff Take Questions from Aspiring Engineers

Dec. 29, 2016: ​Earlier this month, the VDOT Central Office Talent Programs team visited ninth-graders at Highland Springs High School in Henrico County to talk about engineering careers.

This networking event gave 44 students an opportunity to talk about various fields of engineering one-on-one with our staff members, who answered questions about why they selected their college major, projects they have worked on and a typical day in their position.

"I had a really good time,” said Transportation Engineer Jonathan Robbins. “The kids were all eager and asked some really thorough questions. I was impressed by the turnout and how engaged the students were!"

"It was exciting to have discussions with the next generation of engineers relative to their aspirations and future careers,” said Construction Project Controls Program Manager Omar Ahmed.

 “It was quite a fulfilling experience."


Bridge of Hope

Guatemala bridgeDec. 29, 2016: VDOT Staunton District Bridge Engineer Rex Pearce recently played a key role in a life-changing project in rural Guatemala.

Rex volunteered with Bridges to Prosperity and Engineers Without Borders to design and build a pedestrian suspension bridge across a dangerous river gorge. 

His work culminated in two trips to Guatemala during the fall of 2016 to help build the structure and meet the people who desperately needed it. 

The new bridge gives the community safe access to nearby city markets and cuts travel time to Guatemala City by more than half.

“There are families crossing the river to sell their produce, get their children to school or medical care,” Rex explained. 

“People were risking their lives trying to get across a river that’s impassable for many months every year.”

The project also gave Rex valuable experience he can use in the Staunton District, which maintains more than two-dozen similar structures. 

Rex noted that volunteering with one of these nonprofits doesn’t require travel.


Page last modified: Jan. 10, 2017