Friday, January 5, 2018

New Gateway To Virginia Tech Open

SALEM — Virginia Tech in coordination with the Virginia Department of Transportation held a ribbon-cutting ceremony today to open VDOT's new diverging diamond interchange on Route 460 that will lead drivers onto Southgate Drive and into Virginia Tech or to the relocated Research Center Drive to the Virginia Tech Montgomery Executive Airport and the Corporate Research Center. The new interchange, only the second of its kind in the region, will officially be open to traffic December 14. 
“We’re happy to see this day for many reasons, including improved safety, a beautiful new entrance to our campus, and better access to the growing infrastructure that supports our vision for the university’s future,” said Virginia Tech President Tim Sands. “We’re grateful to everyone who made this happen, including past and present governors, legislators and staff, the Commonwealth Transportation Board, Branch Highways, and VDOT.  Virginia is very fortunate to have an innovative Department of Transportation that is willing to work collaboratively with institutions like ours to develop the future of our region.”
About the Project
The $46.7-million VDOT project replaces the signalized intersection at Route 460 and Southgate Drive at the entrance to Virginia Tech with a diverging diamond interchange. It eliminates the last at-grade signalized intersection on Route 460 from the I-81 interchange and the Town of Narrows. In addition, two new bridges were constructed over the Route 460 Bypass for the interchange and three underpasses for the trail network were constructed or extended.
When the new interchange opens, drivers coming to Virginia Tech from Route 460 will use the new interchange to access Southgate Drive. The existing signal at Southgate Drive will be deactivated and the ramps at the interchange will take drivers onto Southgate Drive. In addition, Research Center Drive will be relocated and extend to the CRC and the existing Research Center Drive will be renamed Beamer Way and will temporarily extend through to Innovation Drive until Beamer Way is closed at the Huckleberry Trail crossing in 2018.
Benefits of the Diverging Diamond Interchange
A new and innovative design, the diverging diamond interchange increases safety and moves a higher volume of vehicles without increasing the number of lanes. A diverging diamond interchange
  • Reduces congestion by allowing traffic to keep moving through an intersection
  • Improves safety by allowing free flowing turns when entering or exiting the roadway, eliminating left turns against oncoming traffic and reducing the number of traffic signal phases
  • Provides better sight distance at turns and fewer chances to conflict with other vehicles, which results in fewer crashes.
Driving through the Diverging Diamond Interchange
When driving through the interchange, drivers will travel temporarily to the left side of the road.
Drivers should
  • Proceed through the traffic signal at the entrance to the interchange and follow their lane to the opposite side of the roadway.
  • Pay close attention and follow signs and pavement markings that will guide them through the interchange.
  • Be patient with other drivers in the area.
Resources for drivers, including graphics and videos, are available on VDOT’s website at www.virginiadot.org/VTGateway.
Drivers can join the conversation now on Twitter by sharing their experience driving through the new interchange at #VTGateway.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Agency Seeks Partner Qualifications For New Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) has formally initiated procurement and will begin searching for a private sector partner to deliver the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel (HRBT) Expansion project.
Following a briefing to the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) on Dec. 6, 2017, and concurrence from the Transportation Public-Private Partnership Steering Committee on Dec. 12, 2017, VDOT has issued a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for interested teams to share their capabilities and experience to best deliver the HRBT as a design-build contract under the Public-Private Transportation Act (PPTA). The current project planning estimate is between $3.3 and $3.8 billion, which will be refined as the scope is more fully developed.
The HRBT Expansion project will build another bridge-tunnel and widen the four-lane segments of Interstate 64 in Hampton and Norfolk to ease daily congestion between the Peninsula and South Hampton Roads, a corridor vital to Virginia’s economy, military readiness and regional connectivity. Traffic on the HRBT’s existing four lanes exceeds 100,000 vehicles per day during peak summer traffic.
VDOT will use RFQ responses to determine proposers’ qualifications to design and construct this complex project. For the tunnel portion of the work, teams may present their capabilities in immersed-tube tunneling, bored tunneling or both methods. 
RFQ responses are due to VDOT by March 2, 2018, with qualified short-listed teams to be notified in April 2018. These short-listed teams will then be issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) to obtain detailed information on their technical approach to deliver the project, as well as binding price proposals. The RFP process is anticipated to start in spring 2018, with the contract award planned for early 2019. Construction is expected to begin in mid-2019 and reach completion in 2024.
The expanded HRBT will become part of a future regional network of Express Lanes, as presented to the CTB in July 2017, with free lanes remaining available to all motorists at all times. The majority of project funding will be provided by the Hampton Roads Transportation Accountability Commission, with federal support and other resources anticipated.
Further information about the HRBT Expansion, including procurement details and the project’s planning-level design concept, which will be refined by the proposer teams during the RFP phase is available at: www.HRBTexpansion.org.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

New Site Provides Information About VDOT Activities In Residential Areas

RICHMOND, Virginia – The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) has launched a new website focused on providing information to property owners and residents about maintenance activities and issues that affect residential areas.
The site, VDOT and Your Neighborhood, provides details and expectations about maintenance work, as well as contact information for assistance when issues occur.
“We want people to know about and understand the maintenance work that goes on in their neighborhoods,” said VDOT Commissioner Charles Kilpatrick. “The information found on VDOT and Your Neighborhood isn’t new, but having these commonly discussed topics in one place makes it quick and easy to find answers when questions arise.”
The site content is based on the most frequently asked questions regarding neighborhoods. Included on the site are topics such as paving and pothole repairs, drainage, snow removal and claims. Information about speed limits, signs, residential traffic issues and more can also be found there.
The website also features a snowplow tracker map tool. This allows VDOT and contractor trucks equipped with automatic vehicle location technology to be monitored during snow removal operations, when snowfall reaches two inches or more.
“Sometimes VDOT work can be disruptive and unexpected,” said Maintenance Division Director Branco Vlacich. “This site will provide details about maintenance activities so residents know what to expect.”
As the platform grows, additional topics that affect neighborhoods and homeowners will be added.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

I-64 Express Lanes Tolling Begins Jan. 10

NORFOLK – The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) will begin tolling the 64 Express Lanes the morning of Wednesday, January 10, 2018. During operating hours (5 a.m.-9 a.m. westbound and 2 p.m.-6 p.m. eastbound Monday through Friday), motorists will need an E-ZPass or E-ZPass Flex to access the 8.4-mile stretch of Reversible Roadway between the I-264 Interchange and I-564. Outside of operating hours, the lanes will remain free and open to all motorists.
During operating hours, motorists who wish to ride toll-free must meet the HOV-2+ (High Occupancy Vehicle) requirement and have an E-ZPass Flex transponder switched to “HOV ON”. To pay the variable toll during operating hours, solo drivers may use a standard E-ZPass transponder or an E-ZPass Flex with “HOV ON” covered.
 The 64 Express Lanes are designed to provide more choices for travelers while increasing the efficiency of the corridor for all drivers. Until now, the 64 Reversible Roadway has been open only to HOV-2+ during peak travel times. When the 64 Express Lanes begin January 10, it will be the first time solo drivers in Hampton Roads will have the choice to legally use the lanes as an alternative to the free general purpose lanes during peak travel times. Dynamic tolling, in which the price fluctuates based on user demand, is designed to increase the number of people using the lanes while maintaining minimum speeds to provide a more reliable trip for travelers.
 “We can’t pave our way out of congestion,” said Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne. “We want travelers to get the most out of the highway space we have available, and our data shows that the current HOV lanes aren’t the best way to do that in Hampton Roads. The 64 Express Lanes will offer solo drivers the choice to use the lanes, while still encouraging carpooling.”
 “We have been working to improve travel times and reliability for commuters in Hampton Roads,” said VDOT Commissioner Charles Kilpatrick. “The 64 Express Lanes will help us further that goal.”
 To assist with the launch, VDOT is extending the hours at its E-ZPass Customer Service Centers at 1701 Church Street, Norfolk, VA 23504 and 4010 Victory Boulevard, Portsmouth, VA 23701. The Customer Service Centers will be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday between January 2-5 and January 8-12. Weekend hours will remain noon to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and closed on Sundays.
 Motorists interested in exchanging their standard E-ZPass transponder for an E-ZPass Flex may visit www.EZPassVA.com, call the toll-free number at 877-762-7824 or visit an E-ZPass Customer Service Center. The exchange is free. Motorists may also obtain a new E-ZPass or E-ZPass Flex device at one of our E-ZPass On-the-Go retailers, the locations of which are also available at www.EZPassVA.com. Please note that transponder exchanges are not available at the On-the-Go retailers.
 You can find general information about the 64 Express Lanes and a list of Frequently Asked Questions by visiting www.64ExpressLanes.org.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

66 Express Lanes Inside The Beltway Toll Day One Analysis

FAIRAX –After nearly four full days of Express Lanes on I-66 Inside the Beltway being underway, the Virginia Department of Transportation reports that morning and afternoon commutes on Monday, Dec. 4, were faster than the same time last December.  The average round-trip toll price during peak hours was $14.50, with the average morning toll during peak hours of $10.70 and average afternoon toll during the peak hours of $3.80. This toll rate during peak hours is lower than the estimated average toll rate of $17.00 during peak hours discussed in 2015, as shown in the table below.  
Eastbound (AM)
Westbound (PM)
Daily Total
September 2015 Estimate
Average Toll (HOV-2+)
$9.00
$8.00
$17.00
December 4, 2017
Average Toll (HOV-2+)
$10.70
$3.80
$14.50
Further analysis of the Monday morning rush hours indicates the following:
  • A total of 13,473 vehicles used I-66 Inside the Beltway between the hours of 5:30-9:30am;
  • Of this total 5,082 or 38 percent were carpoolers who traveled free;
  • Only 39 vehicles, or 0.29 percent, paid the posted highest toll of $34.50;
  • 34 percent of vehicles paid less than $10; and,
  • Travel times were 10-12 minutes compared with 15-30 minutes last December.
Further analysis of the Monday afternoon rush hours indicates the following:
  • A total of 16,307 vehicles used I-66 Inside the Beltway between the hours of 3:00-7:00pm;
  • Of this total 4,964 or 30 percent were carpoolers who traveled for free; and,
  • Travel times were 10-12 minutes compared with 10-20 minutes last December.
“Contrary to the continued political rhetoric of critics, I-66 Inside the Beltway Express Lanes tolls have been based on sound planning and with the ultimate goal of improving travel for everyone,” said Secretary of Transportation Aubrey Layne. “We want to move more people, improve connectivity and provide additional travel choices. This is about unlocking gridlock on I-66 as Governor McAuliffe pledged.”
Additional data from Monday commute shows that travel on parallel routes such as Route 50, Route 29 and Route 7 were either similar or improved compared with last December.  There was an incident that closed two of three lanes of traffic on Route 50 Monday evening that resulted in longer travel times for a period of time.  Detailed travel time charts for these routes along with Interstate 66 are included at the end of this release. 
VDOT is committed to transparency in the operation of the Interstate 66 Express Lanes and will release similar information over the coming days.  VDOT is responsible for operating and maintaining the I-66 Express Lanes Inside the Beltway. A period of approximately three days is needed for tolling operators to process each vehicle trip on the Express Lanes, which provide information such as traffic volumes and toll pricing.
The Express Lanes, which allow any solo driver the ability to use I-66 Inside the Beltway legally for the first time ever during rush hours, are part of a comprehensive multimodal set of improvements to the I-66 corridor. Other key elements, which are moving ahead, include widening I-66 from the Dulles Toll Road to Ballston, and continued investments in new transit service and other services like carpooling incentives.
Update on I-66 Eastbound Widening Initiative:
On Thursday, Dec. 7, VDOT awarded an $85.7 million contract to Lane Construction Corporation of Chantilly to add an additional through lane along four miles of eastbound Interstate 66 between the Dulles Connector Road (Route 267) and Fairfax Drive (Route 237) in Fairfax and Arlington Counties.
The project includes ramp modifications at Exits 69 and 71, rehabilitation and/or repairs to bridges, construction of noise barriers eastbound and westbound and widening bridges and constructing a new grade-separated crossing of the Washington & Old Dominion (W&OD) Trail at Lee Highway.
Additionally, an auxiliary lane will be added to the existing I-66 eastbound exit ramp and a slip ramp will be constructed from the I-66 eastbound exit ramp to the Route 7 southbound entrance flyover ramp, providing more direct access to the West Falls Church Metro Station Parking Garage.
The additional eastbound lane will be open to traffic in fall 2020 and the overall project is expected to be complete in fall 2021.
Update on I-66 Commuter Choice Program and New Transit Services and Multimodal Improvements Benefitting I-66 Corridor:
Toll revenue generated from the I-66 Inside the Beltway Express Lanes supports the I-66 Commuter Choice Program run by the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission. All toll revenues after operating costs will be allocated to transit and other multimodal initiatives that provide a direct benefit for those who travel on the I-66 corridor by the Commission.
In July 2016, the Commonwealth approved $10 million to fund the initial group of multimodal improvements for I-66 Inside the Beltway. This proactive approach allowed VDOT, the Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT), the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission (NVTC),  local government and key stakeholders to advance ten meaningful multimodal projects that will ultimately move an extra 5,000 people through the corridor each morning.
The initial projects, which are in effect now, encompass Prince William, Loudoun, Fairfax, and Arlington counties and the City of Falls Church. Transit services include three new bus routes, increased service on two existing routes and last-mile connections to Metrorail stations, new bikeshare stations near Metro, as well as a new park-and-ride lot in Aldie that will support current and future bus service. Additional projects launched include real-time traveler information and transportation demand management services that provide incentives to use transit or carpools.
The process to identify and select the next set of multimodal improvement projects is underway currently.  Local governments have until December 22, 2017 to submit projects for consideration.  The Commission is expected to vote on its recommendations in the Spring, with final action by the Commonwealth Transportation Board shortly thereafter.
I-66 Travel Times – Morning and Evening Commute
Route 50 Travel Times – Morning and Evening Commutes
Route 29 Travel Times – Morning and Evening Commutes
Route 7 Travel Times – Morning and Evening Commutes

Monday, December 11, 2017

Transportation Board Awards Contracts Worth $374.7 Million

RICHMOND, Virginia – The Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) approved four contracts at its monthly meeting yesterday, totaling $374.7 million for maintenance and construction projects in the Virginia Department of Transportation’s (VDOT) Northern Virginia, Hampton Roads and Richmond districts.
  • Eastbound I-66 Inside the Beltway will be widened between the Dulles Connector Road and Fairfax Drive 
An $85.7 million contract was awarded to Lane Construction Corp. of Chantilly to add a through lane along approximately four miles of eastbound Interstate 66 between the Dulles Connector Road (Route 267) and Fairfax Drive (Route 237) in Fairfax and Arlington counties, in VDOT’s Northern Virginia District.
The project includes ramp modifications at Exits 69 and 71, rehabilitation and/or repairs to bridges, construction of noise barriers eastbound and westbound and widening bridges and constructing a new grade-separated crossing of the Washington & Old Dominion (W&OD) Trail at Lee Highway.
Additionally, an auxiliary lane will be added to the existing I-66 eastbound exit ramp and a slip ramp will be constructed from the I-66 eastbound exit ramp to the Route 7 southbound entrance flyover ramp, providing more direct access to the West Falls Church Metro Station Parking Garage.
The additional eastbound lane will be open to traffic in fall 2020 and the overall project is expected to be complete in fall 2021. 
  • I-64 will be widened to three lanes for more than eight miles in York County
A $178.3 million contract was awarded to Shirley Contracting Co. LLC of Lorton for I-64 Capacity Improvements Segment III. The project will extend the three lane section of Interstate 64 for about 8.2 miles west of the I-64 Capacity Improvement Segment II endpoint in VDOT’s Hampton Roads District.
Improvements will include reconstruction of existing travel lanes and outside shoulder; the addition of one 12-foot travel lane and one 12-foot paved shoulder in both directions; lengthening of acceleration and deceleration lanes; reconstruction of and addition of a signal at the I-64 eastbound off ramp to Route 143; repair and widening of four mainline bridges and replacement of existing bridges over Queens Creek.
Widening of the roadway and bridges is expected to occur mostly on the median of the existing roadway minimizing impacts to existing interchanges and utilities, right of way and the environment.
The project is funded through the Hampton Roads Transportation Accountability Commission and SMART SCALE and is expected to be complete in fall 2021. 
  • A new I-264 interchange will be constructed at Witchduck Road in the City of Virginia Beach
A $105.4 million contract was awarded to The Lane Construction Corp. of Cheshire, Connecticut for the Interstate 264 / Witchduck Road Interchange and Ramp Extension Project in VDOT’s Hampton Roads District.
Improvements include a new I-264 interchange at Witchduck Road, ramp widening and a new system of collector-distributor (C-D) roads to ease congestion and improve traffic flow from Interstate 64 West to I-264 East.
Project improvements include a C-D road along I-264 through the Newtown Road interchange, which will be reconfigured to improve the traffic operations.
The new C-D road serving the Newtown Road interchange will be extended eastward to the Witchduck Road interchange before merging into mainline I-264 East. This extension includes widening the existing bridge over the former Norfolk Southern Railroad corridor and providing an off-ramp to Witchduck Road. The new two-lane off-ramp will be aligned with the existing Grayson Road intersection and will provide access to both directions of Witchduck Road and to Grayson Road.
The project is funded through the Hampton Roads Transportation Accountability Commission and SMART SCALE. Expected completion is in fall 2021.
  • Paving maintenance is planned in ten counties in the Richmond region
A $5.3 million contract was awarded to Slurry Pavers Inc. of Richmond for paving maintenance in VDOT’s Richmond District. The project will resurface 118 lane miles along 14 primary routes in ten Richmond-area counties. The work will be completed during the 2018 paving season.
The following chart tracks the dollar amount of major contracts the CTB has awarded in calendar year 2017:
chart
 In advance of each CTB meeting, VDOT Commissioner Charles Kilpatrick also approves contracts up to $5 million in value. From the Oct. 25, 2017, bid letting, the commissioner approved 23 contracts worth approximately $32.2 million for construction and maintenance projects on Virginia’s interstates and primary and secondary roads.
Appointed by the governor, the 17-member CTB establishes the administrative policies for Virginia's transportation system. The CTB allocates highway funding to specific projects, locates routes and provides funding for airports, seaports and public transportation. The board normally meets on the third Wednesday of the month in months when action meetings are scheduled.
For more information:

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Gov. McAuliffe Marks Opening Of A Wider I-64 On The Peninsula

NEWPORT NEWS – Governor McAuliffe today marked the opening of a wider I-64 on the peninsula with a ceremonial ribbon cutting. Unlocking one of the Peninsula’s biggest bottlenecks has been a priority for Governor McAuliffe and today’s completion of the Segment I widening work marks a significant step forward in the overall project. Segment I of the widening effort was completed on time and on budget.
“My administration has worked tirelessly to relieve the gridlock in Hampton Roads and today I am proud to celebrate the widening of I-64 on the Peninsula, which came in on time and under budget,” said Governor McAuliffe at the ribbon cutting ceremony. “This important project was truly a team effort between the state, regional and local government, the private sector and the community. The widening of I-64 on the Peninsula is yet another step forward in our efforts to build a transportation system that helps our new Virginia economy thrive.”
Nearly six miles of Interstate 64 between Jefferson Avenue and Yorktown Road is now open with an additional travel lane and shoulder in each direction. The widening work was completed by Shirley Contracting Company of Lorton, Virginia and is the first of three independent segments to be widened. The fast-tracked project was delivered in 22 months at a cost of $122 million. The project was the first to make use of Hampton Roads Transportation Fund revenues, with $44 million of funding provided by the Hampton Roads Transportation Accountability Commission. 
Secretary of Transportation Aubrey Layne said, “Today’s event is truly a celebration of these types of significant improvements, which is exactly what is needed to build and maintain a reliable transportation systems that are essential to growing the new Virginia economy.”
Segment I work also included the repair and widening of four bridges at Fort Eustis Boulevard and the Lee Hall Reservoir, the lengthening of on-and-off ramps at Fort Eustis Boulevard, and the addition of low-maintenance landscaping along the corridor’s median.
Work is already underway on the widening of Segment II to Route 199.  Over the next four years, another travel lane and shoulder will be added in each direction along 15 miles of I-64, all the way to exit 234 (Lightfoot).