News Briefs

Crew Finds Old Shotgun On Work Site

Old shotgunFeb. 13, 2019: While working on a bridge project on Route 102 in Pocahontas, Tazewell County, Virginia Department of Transportation crews found an antique shotgun, now housed at a new museum there.

“I received a call from the crew that a shotgun had been found during excavation work,” said VDOT Construction Manager Matthew Taylor.

“The gun was mired in the mud, in the excavated area, below where the original concrete abutment for the old bridge.”

The bridge was built in 1930.

Taylor said it’s a Volunteer breech loaded, single-shot, 12-gauge shotgun made in the late 1920s. It had a spent shell in it.

The gun was sent to the State Police to make sure it was not part of a crime.

Troopers determined it was not part of any unsolved cases.

After the gun was cleared, it was released to the Historical Pocahontas Museum.

Taylor spoke with Trooper Kent Tucker, who said the gun may have been used in a coal union strike in the late 1920s.

Broken glass from the Pocahontas Bottling Company, dating to the late 1920s, was also found in the same area.

Tucker said the gun may have been used in an unsolved murder or shooting in a nearby West Virginia. If that were to be pursued, it would be up to those at the museum.

Taylor theorizes it could have been discarded by a hunter when it was no longer working or someone just left it there.

Haymarket Diverging Diamond Receives Honor

Project teamJan. 31, 2019: The diverging-diamond interchange at Interstate 66 and Route 15 in Prince William County was named 2018 Project of the Year by the Design-Build Institute of America (DBIA) at its recent annual conference held in New Orleans. 

“This is the highest recognition awarded by DBIA, and it speaks to VDOT’s track record of excellence in the area of design-build projects,” State Alternative Project Delivery Engineer Shailendra G. Patel, P.E., said. “The Alternative Technical Concept proposed by the design-builder achieved the project goal and objectives with a better design and economical solution."

The $38.8 million design-build project reconstructed the interchange, located in the Northern Virginia District, to relieve congestion, enhance public safety, improve operations, bolster capacity and accommodate forecasted traffic demand in the project area.

It redesigned the interchange as a diverging-diamond interchange — the first of its kind in the region — to best accommodate the projected traffic volumes as well as critical pedestrian movements in the interchange area.

Design-Build Program Manager Christiana Briganti-Dunn said the project faced challenges, including the potential presence of a threatened species of bat and owner-directed changes such as maintaining a 10-foot area behind a proposed sound wall. That required making it a combination retaining and sound wall, and changed an already approved railing to a decorative railing.

The team also worked in overlapping areas with another design-builder working on the Interstate 66 widening project.

Certain elements of work had to be traded between the two teams in order for those elements to be constructed once and in their ultimate configuration. 

Finally, in July 2016, a tractor-trailer filled with tomatoes crashed under the new northbound Route 15 bridge and caught fire, causing superficial damage to the bridge girders that needed to be repaired prior to VDOT acceptance. 

“The team used all the efficiencies of design-build to work through delays and issues to deliver the project on time,” Briganti-Dunn said.

The project previously received a National Award of Excellence and a National Award of Merit, both in the transportation sector, from DBIA, before competing among 11 sectors for Project of the Year.

A National Award of Merit was also given to VDOT’s Interstate 64 Capacity Improvements Segment I project in the Hampton Roads District.

A Work Of Art

Girls with painted plowJan. 10, 2018: What does a Virginia Department of Transportation snowplow have in common with the Sistine Chapel?

Both require some unusual painting techniques.
According to popular legend, Michelangelo created his masterpiece ceiling while lying flat on his back.

Two young art students from Stuart Hall School in Staunton did exactly that to paint a plow for the Fishersville Area Headquarters.

Fiona Nguyen and Tsai Giai Uy (pictured at right) spent about a month on the outdoor artwork, wrapping their clothes and shoes with plastic to protect them from drips and spills.
The finished plow depicts the skyline of downtown Staunton and honors Stuart Hall’s 175th anniversary.

It will help clear the roads of Augusta County this winter.

Over the past few seasons, the Staunton District has also had snowplows painted by students in Clarke, Frederick, Rockingham and Augusta counties.

Page last modified: Feb. 13, 2019