News Briefs

Culpeper District Supports West Virginia Flood Victims

donations for flood victimsAug. 24, 2016: In June, a torrential storm dumped nearly 10 inches of rain in central West Virginia in a brief period. 

Residents lost everything they had — homes, cars and businesses sat under water.

VDOT's Culpeper District sprang into action with a donation drive organized by Angela Foroughi, assistant district administrator for business/planning and investment management (at center of photo, with Environmental Specialist Christine Perryman and District Engineer John Lynch).

Facilities staff placed collection bins, made from orange barrels, at several locations throughout the district. 

By Aug. 1, they were overflowing with fans, toys, clothing, first aid supplies and totes for residents to carry their provisions.

In early August, Charlottesville Residency Maintenance Operations Manager James Greis and Perryman drove more than 250 miles during their personal time to deliver the items to the Elkview community.

“We help others, and one day, they just may be helping us in return,” Foroughi said. “It restores a faith in humanity; it is humbling and it is rewarding.”


Helping Kids Stay Warm In Winter

Thomas ElyAug. 16, 2016: For adults, buying a new winter coat is a treat. 

But for kids who may not own even one coat, receiving a free one is a blessing. 

That’s why Thomas Ely, at right, a crew member in VDOT's Dryden Gap Area Headquarters in the Bristol District, is working to ensure children in his community have a new coat each winter.

What started 11 years ago as a partnership with Blanket America to give blankets, coats and socks to local churches to distribute to the needy grew into Thomas starting his own nonprofit four years ago called For God’s Glory Missions. 

In 2015, Thomas, his wife, Irene, and daughter, Sarah, along with a handful of volunteers from Olinger Baptist Church, where Thomas is a pastor, distributed 8,600 coats and Bibles to children in Southwest Virginia, North Carolina and West Virginia.

Thomas and his team also helped the Appalachian Regional Coalition on Homelessness in Johnson City, Tennessee, by donating 400 blankets for veterans who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

Ely received this year's VDOT Commissioner's Award for Community Service and Volunteerism.


Rio Road Reopens Early

Route 29 Solutions Project teamAug. 8, 2016: The Rio Road intersection with Route 29 in VDOT's Culpeper District closed to traffic May 23 and reopened after only 57 days, a bit more than half of the allowable 103 days.

“Lane-Corman (the project contractor) accomplished the work efficiently, quickly and most important, safely,” said Dave Covington, VDOT’s regional program director for Route 29 Solutions.

“We have a lot more work to do to complete this project, and the rest of the Route 29 Solutions program, but reopening the Rio Road intersection early was a major milestone accomplishment.”   

Crews worked around-the-clock six days a week through the first half of July. 

Traffic engineers continue to monitor and fine-tune the signal timing at the intersection and along the Route 29 corridor for efficient traffic movement through the area. 

The final phase of the project will continue over the next several months.

The project team is shown at right.


Ferry Doubles as Mobile Classroom

StudentsJuly 27, 2016: ​High school students from as far away as the Virgin Islands, Arkansas and Pennsylvania paid a visit to the VDOT Hampton Roads District recently as part of Hampton University’s summer transportation program.

The four-week National Summer Transportation Institute teaches teens about careers in transportation. 

On July 6, the 16 participants started with a visit to the Eastern Region Transportation Operations Center (TOC) and Safety Service Patrol headquarters in Virginia Beach. 

Program Director Shontae Taylor said the students received a lesson in the TOC’s importance as they followed the live feed of a multi-agency response to a crash at the Interstate 64/264 interchange.

The group then toured the Coleman Bridge and the Jamestown-Scotland Ferry, a first even for many of the local students.

“They kept saying, ‘The bus is just going to drive on the boat?’” Taylor said.

Ferry Facility Manager Wes Ripley discussed the ferry’s history and invited the students to get out and walk around.


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.


Page last modified: Aug. 24, 2016