Oct. 21, 2014: Each day school buses around the commonwealth transport precious cargo.
Riding a school bus is the safest way for children to travel to and from school. However, the time getting on or off the bus can potentially be dangerous.
To bring attention to school bus safety, October 20 to 24 is designated National School Bus Safety Week.
Take time this week to review the correct ways to approach and exit school buses with your children. Motorists should also review their driving behaviors when they encounter school bus stops.
• Walk with your kids to the bus stop and wait with them until it arrives.
• Wait for the bus to come to a complete stop before approaching or exiting the bus.
• Teach kids to look left, right and left again before crossing the street.
• Drivers should never pass a stopped school bus.
• Drivers should approach school bus stops cautiously even if a bus is not in the area.
Virginia Capital Trail Update: 29 Miles Complete
Oct. 17, 2014: On Wednesday, VDOT officially opened the much-anticipated Sherwood Forest phase of the Virginia Capital Trail in Charles City County.
With this 12-mile phase completed, bicyclists and pedestrians now enjoy approximately 29 miles of continuous travel along the trail.
The project and construction teams have taken great care to preserve the historical, cultural and natural resources along the trail, especially the tree canopy that lines scenic Route 5.
Richmond District Administrator Tom Hawthorne was joined by Virginia First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe, Sen. Donald McEachin, Charles Donato, chairman of the Virginia Capital Trail Foundation and other officials to cut the ribbon on the new trail.
While rain dampened plans to hold the event outside, nearly 300 supporters packed into the Charles City County auditorium to celebrate the completion.
“This trail is an asset to the residents and visitors of Virginia,” said McAuliffe. “It offers a free and safe place for Virginians to get moving…while showcasing our beautiful outdoor spaces.”
Four additional phases are under construction in Henrico County. The entire Virginia Capital Trail is expected to be complete next year.
Once finished, approximately 50 miles of trail will connect Richmond with the Jamestown trail head.
Career Fair Turns 10
Oct. 10, 2014: The VDOT Northern Virginia District Civil Rights Office, along with the Federal Highway Administration, hosted the 10th annual Transportation Career Fair at the Prince William Fairgrounds recently.
This year’s event had a record-breaking 91 registered exhibitors, along with 130 pieces of equipment on display. That’s up from 72 exhibitors last year and 117 pieces of equipment.
“We were able to expose more than 1,000 high school students to the many rewarding and diverse careers in the transportation industry,” said VDOT Civil Rights Manager Leslie Martin.
The purpose of the annual event is to encourage and prepare students for careers in transportation-related fields, such as engineering, architecture, technology, environmental engineering, construction and support services.
The event also aims to provide information for students to understand how various disciplines can result in careers in the transportation and construction industries.
There were displays, demonstrations, hands-on participation, presentations, contests, giveaways, scholarship opportunities and the chance for students to learn about the many careers associated with all aspects of transportation. Exhibitors included large corporations, small firms, organizations, institutions of higher learning, governmental agencies and VDOT representatives.
The event was supported by sponsors including the Heavy Construction Contracting Association and the Lane Construction Corporation.
Groundbreaking on Gloucester Parkway Extension
Oct. 2, 2014: Construction is under way to extend Gloucester Parkway, as VDOT Northern Virginia District staff and Loudoun County officials broke ground Tuesday, Sept. 30.
The $40 million project completes the roadway from the Loudoun County Parkway to the intersection of Pacific and Nokes boulevards, filling an important gap in the local road network.
“When complete, the project will provide an additional east-west route connecting the Ashburn community and the Route 28 corridor,” said Susan Shaw, VDOT’s design-build program manager in northern Virginia. “Within the first year of opening, Gloucester Parkway is expected to carry more than 10,000 vehicles per day that currently use Route 7 to the north and Waxpool Road to the south to travel to and from Ashburn.”
When the project opens in 2016, the new 0.8-mile, four-lane divided segment will include a new bridge over Broad Run, intersection improvements at Loudoun County Parkway (Route 607) and Pacific Boulevard (Route 1036), and trail and sidewalk improvements.
Traffic signals will also be constructed at both of the intersections.
The $40 million project is being built with 100 percent Loudoun County funding. Shirley Contracting Co. LLC is the design-build contractor.
Visit the Gloucester Parkway Extension project page for more details.
A Step in the Right Direction
Sept. 29, 2014: Put on your walking shoes, take your child’s hand and walk them to school on International Walk to School Day, Wednesday, Oct. 8.
VDOT’s Safe Routes to School and Transportation Alternatives programs provide a well-rounded approach to dealing with the issues that prevent kids from walking or biking to school.
“International Walk to School Day encourages healthy habits and entices parents and children to walk together when they might not have considered it,” said Rob Williams, coordinator of VDOT’s Safe Routes to School program. “Our hope is that walking to school changes from a once-a-year activity into something more frequent…once a month, once a week or even a daily habit.”
Over the years, Virginia’s participating schools have steadily increased from 10 in 2004 to an impressive 187 last year. The state goal this year is 200 schools.
The statewide program is funded by the U.S. Federal Highway Administration and works with localities, schools and non-profit groups to improve walking or bicycling opportunities for children in kindergarten through eighth grades.
For more information, go to http://www.walkbiketoschool.org/.
A Different Kind Of Diamond
Sept 22, 2014: A few years ago the term “diverging diamond interchange” was most likely met with blank stares and confusion.
Today, drivers traveling through VDOT's Culpeper District’ at the Zion Crossroads interchagne near Interstate 64 in Louisa County get to experience the first such design in the state.
The diverging diamond is a very different design than traditional interchanges and tends to raise eyebrows at first. The design requires traffic to cross to the left side of the road to allow free-flowing left movements. It is safer than traditional interchanges because it removes the need for left turns facing oncoming traffic and minimizes backups.
Through education and outreach, Culpeper District staff was able to lessen fears about the unusual traffic pattern. Their efforts are paying off.
“We have had little to no complaints or concerns about the interchange since it opened,” said Ken Connors, Culpeper District construction engineer.
VDOT Is Hiring!
Sept. 18, 2014: Do you know someone who would like to help us “Keep Virginia Moving?”
VDOT Human Resources and Training Division staff will be on the road attending many career fair events all over the state from now until November.
“Recruiting gives us the opportunity to meet some extraordinary people and get them interested in starting their career with VDOT,” said Pamela Koger McElwain. “In addition, it allows VDOT to educate the public on the diverse things we do.”
VDOT has various job opportunities statewide as well as internships and scholarships for college students. Click on our link to see where we will be: VDOT Fall Career Fairs.
Young Engineers Gain Real World Experience
Sept. 15, 2014: Most engineers will agree there is a big difference between learning about bridges and actually witnessing the pieces being put together. The Core Development, Engineer Scholar and Internship programs give college students and recent college graduates a unique opportunity of trading study sessions for real-world experience.
For six young engineers in VDOT's Northern Virginia District, a recent nighttime visit to the Gainesville Interchange Project in Prince William County brought the pages of their textbooks to reality.
The group observed the complex work involved with placing bridge beams over a railroad track in the middle of the night. “This was a great chance for them to see the challenges faced by our construction group in an urban environment and witness the hard work of the crews,” said Mitch Ball, Northern Virginia District’s project controls manager.
Engineer in Training Khanh Pham is a member of the Core Development Program, who attended the mission. “It provided a visual understanding of what is involved in bridge construction and an opportunity to interact with the people working on the project,” Pham said .