Virginia Department of Transportation
The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) is the agency of the state government responsible for transportation in the state of Virginia in the United States. VDOT is headquartered at the Virginia Department of Highways Building in downtown Richmond. VDOT is responsible for building, maintaining, and operating the roads, bridges, and tunnels in the commonwealth. It is overseen by the Commonwealth Transportation Board, which has the power to fund airports, seaports, rail, and public transportation.
|Headquarters||1401 E. Broad Street, Richmond, Virginia, 23219|
|Annual budget||$5.4 b USD (FY2019)|
|Parent agency||Commonwealth Transportation Board|
VDOT's revised annual budget for fiscal year 2019 is $5.4 billion.
VDOT operates and maintains:
- Roads: VDOT's largest responsibility is the maintenance of roads. Filling potholes, storm drain cleaning, water drainage, guard rail replacement, bridge work, tree removal, and trash removal, as well as the maintenance of signs and traffic lights.
- More than 21,000 bridges and structures
- Snow removal: VDOT is responsible for removing snow along the major roads of Virginia.
- Forty-one safety rest areas and ten welcome centers along major highways
- More than 100 commuter parking lots
- Four underwater crossings in the Hampton Roads area:
- Elizabeth River Crossings operates these facilities
- Two mountain tunnels on Interstate 77 in southwest Virginia:
- Two toll roads:
- One toll bridge: The George P. Coleman Memorial Bridge
- Three ferry services:
- Jamestown Ferry
- Sunny Bank
- Merry Point
Highway maintenance and operations represent 41% of the total budget, followed by 32% for highway systems construction. Smaller portions of the budget are directed to address the needs and requirements of debt service, support to other agencies, administration, and earmarks and special financing.
Virginia is divided into nine districts:
- Bristol District
- Counties: Bland, Buchanan, Dickenson, Grayson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Smyth, Tazewell, Washington, Wise and Wythe
- Cities: Bristol, Norton
- Salem District
- Counties: Bedford, Botetourt, Carroll, Craig, Floyd, Franklin, Giles, Henry, Montgomery, Patrick, Pulaski and Roanoke
- Cities: Bedford, Galax, Martinsville, Radford, Roanoke and Salem
- Lynchburg District
- Counties: Amherst, Appomattox, Buckingham, Campbell, Charlotte, Cumberland, Halifax, Nelson, Pittsylvania and Prince Edward
- Cities: Danville and Lynchburg
- Richmond District
- Hampton Roads District
- Fredericksburg District
- Counties: Caroline, Essex, Gloucester, King and Queen, King George, King William, Lancaster, Mathews, Middlesex, Northumberland, Richmond, Spotsylvania, Stafford, and Westmoreland
- Cities: Fredericksburg
- Culpeper District
- Counties: Albemarle, Culpeper, Fauquier, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa, Madison, Orange, and Rappahannock
- Cities: Charlottesville
- Staunton District
- Counties: Alleghany, Augusta, Bath, Clarke, Frederick, Highland, Page, Rockbridge, Rockingham, Shenandoah, and Warren
- Cities: Buena Vista, Covington, Harrisonburg, Lexington, Staunton, Waynesboro, and Winchester
- Northern Virginia District
- Henrico county maintains its own county roads
- Cities in the Hampton Roads district maintain their own roads
- The town of Smithfield maintains its own roads
- Arlington county maintains its own county roads
Many US states, as well as several US local governments and Canadian provinces, provide 511 systems. VDOT provides the Virginia 511 service, which may be accessed by the 511 telephone number, the www.511va.org website, and Twitter. In May 2012, VDOT introduced the Virginia 511 smartphone apps for Apple and Android devices. The Virginia 511 system provides traffic cameras, real-time road and traffic conditions, trip planning, weather information, and alternatives to traveling by car.
Closing of rest areas
In July 2009, VDOT closed 19 of its rest areas around the state, leaving some stretches of highway, such as the heavily traveled and often congested I-95 northbound between Washington, D.C. and Richmond, a distance of 106 miles (171 km), without a rest stop. Drivers complained that people who needed to use the restroom would have nowhere to go. VDOT countered that the I-95 corridor is highly developed, and many businesses have restrooms, and that closing the rest stops would save VDOT 9 million dollars toward its 2.6 billion dollar budget deficit.
In January 2010, governor Bob McDonnell announced that he would reopen all of the closed rest areas as part of his campaign promises. The state is using an "adopt a rest stop" program, pulling 3 million dollars from the reserve maintenance fund, and employing non-violent inmates to help reopen the rest stops. They all reopened on April 17, 2010.
Spontaneous roadside memorials, often in the form of white crosses, Stars of David, bouquets of flowers, and photos of the dead, have been placed along roads at the scenes of fatal accidents. As of July 1, 2003, Virginia law has banned these memorials. Transportation officials have deemed them a threat to the safety of motorists.
Virginia law §33.2-216 prohibits any person from installing a memorial on any highway controlled by the VDOT without a permit. VDOT will install a roadside memorial sign, normally for a period of two years. The sign may not deviate from the standard roadside memorial sign specifications. The cost must by paid by the person requesting the sign.
Not everyone agreed with the new program. Vowing to ignore the program, Del. Robert G. Marshall (R-Prince William), whose son was killed in an auto accident along Interstate 81 in November 2001, said:
- This is the bureaucratization of love. I don't like it one bit. I intend to put a cross up for my son. Period.
By marking an accident site, survivors create "a living memory of this person's life," said Donna Schuurman, president of Association for Death Education and Counseling. Americans have swept the grieving process under the rug, and now it's popping up in public ways that few expected—and that some don't like, according to Ms. Schuurman.
In 1995, Virginia passed the Public-Private Transportation Act (PPTA), which allows the state to enter into agreements with private entities to construct, improve, maintain and operate transportation facilities. Since then, Virginia has proposed or awarded several PPTA contracts, including:
- Capital Beltway (I-495) HOT Lanes (Completed in November 2012)
- I-95 / I-395 HOT Lanes (proposed)
High-occupancy toll lanes (HOT lanes) are toll lanes operating alongside existing highway lanes. They provided drivers with a faster and more reliable travel option. Buses, carpools, motorcycles and emergency vehicles will be able to use the HOT lanes for free while drivers with fewer than three occupants can use the HOT lanes by paying a toll. The HOT lanes will use dynamic or congestion pricing to manage the number vehicles, and to keep them free-flowing. On average, vehicles are expected to be traveling 55 miles per hour, even during peak travel times.
The first HOT Lanes in the nation to open was the 91 Express Lanes project in Orange County, California, opening in December 1995. A computer adjusts the toll every six minutes, raising it if too many cars are on the highway, lowering it if the highway is underutilized. Even drivers who won't pay the toll appreciate the HOT lanes diverting traffic form the regular highway.
But many people are not happy about the proposed HOT lanes in Northern Virginia. In 2001, Maryland governor Parris N. Glendening (D) stopped a state study of similar proposals for the Maryland side of the Capital Beltway. The governor believed it would be unfair to low-income residents to allow affluent drivers to buy their way out of traffic.
In 2003, Virginia Department of Transportation Commissioner Philip A. Shucet stated that "[s]ingle drivers could pay $1 to $4 to get off of the congested regular lanes." By 2009, transportation planners in Washington estimated the projected rush-hour toll need to be $1.60 a mile. According to VDOT's web site:
Those who own property along the path of the Capital Beltway HOT Lanes are growing increasingly agitated with the project. Supervisor Sharon Bulova (D-Braddock), who represents a number of neighborhoods affected by the construction, said,
Once the project is truly underway, eventually pretty much all the trees in the VDOT right of way are going to be cleared ... I know I didn't have an appreciation of the extent of the clearing that was going to be done ... Do they really need to clear every teeny piece of vegetation in their right of way?
- "Contact Us". Virginia Department of Transportation. Retrieved December 2, 2018.
Virginia Department of Transportation
1401 E. Broad St.
Richmond, Virginia 23219
- "VDOT's Budget". Virginia Department of Transportation. Retrieved December 2, 2018.
- "VDOT's Organization". Virginia Department of Transportation. Retrieved December 2, 2018.
- "Services". Virginia DOT. Retrieved December 2, 2018.
- "Bridges in Virginia". Virginia DOT. Retrieved December 2, 2018.
- "Snow Removal". Fairfax County. Retrieved December 2, 2018.
- "Safety Rest Areas and Welcome Centers". Virginia DOT. Retrieved December 2, 2018.
- "Virginia Toll Facilities". Virginia DOT. Retrieved December 2, 2018.
- "Hampton Roads Tunnels and Bridges". Virginia DOT. Retrieved December 2, 2018.
- "Ferry Information". Virginia DOT. Retrieved December 2, 2018.
- "Fiscal Year 2009-2010 VDOT Annual Budget" (PDF). Retrieved December 2, 2018.
- "Fiscal Year 2008-2009 VDOT Annual Budget" (PDF). Retrieved December 2, 2018.
- "Fiscal Year 2007-2008" (PDF). Retrieved December 2, 2018.
- Halsey III, Ashley (July 8, 2009). "Virginia Prepares to Close Highway Rest Areas". The Washington Post. Retrieved December 2, 2018.
- Kumar, Anita (January 21, 2010). "Virginia to reopen 19 highway rest stops". The Washington Post. Retrieved December 2, 2018.
- Shear, Michael D. (February 21, 2003). "Roadside Memorials Banned VDOT; Agency Calls Shrines Hazardous to Safety". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on December 3, 2018. Retrieved December 2, 2018.
- "§ 33.2-216. Roadside memorials; penalty". Virginia Law Library. Retrieved December 2, 2018.
- Shaffrey, Ted (September 22, 2002). "Roadside Memorials Stir Debate; States Weigh Remembrance Vs. Safety". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on December 3, 2018. Retrieved December 2, 2018. (subscription required)
- "Public-Private Transportation Act of 1995, (as Amended): Implementation Guidelines" (PDF). Retrieved December 1, 2018.
- "I-495 HOT Lanes Overview". Archived from the original on 2010-02-13. Retrieved 2011-08-20.
- I-95 / 395 HOT Lanes Overview
- HOT Lanes FAQs
- The New York Times, September 26, 2004, John Tierney, "The Way We Drive Now; The Autonomist Manifesto 20 Years of growing", New York, NY, page 57
- The Washington Post, July 13, 2002, Michael D. Shear, "Toll Plan Proposed To Widen Beltway - Virginia Considers Private Firm's Offer", Washington, DC, page B1
- Shear, Michael D. (July 12, 2003). "Beltway Toll Lanes Endorsed; Va. Transportation Chief Wants Plan Considered". The Washington Post. Washington, DC. Archived from the original on December 3, 2018. Retrieved December 2, 2018.
- Hannon, Kelly (August 19, 2009). "Funding delays HOT lanes". The Free Lance-Star. Retrieved December 2, 2018.
- The Washington Post, June 24, 2008, Amy Gardner, ""Tree Cutting Shocks HOT Lane Neighbors - Public Will Still Have Voice, VDOT Says"", Washington D.C., page B1