Monday, May 27, 2019

The Most Preventable Way to Lose a Friend

My friend Lee was driving home from church on a Sunday in October. She’d stopped to pick up lunch and was heading back home – probably to spend the day with her first grandchild, a baby boy. An oncoming car drifted into Lee’s lane. She swerved to avoid a head-on collision. Her black SUV rolled over.
Lee died from the traumatic injuries she suffered in the crash. Her two daughters were left without a mother. Her family, friends, co-workers and community were devastated. Her grandson will only remember her from photos.
Read the full story here.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Survey Finds State DOTs Hiring Next-Gen Workforce To Run Drone Operations

PARK CITY, UTAH – A May 2019 survey by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials highlights the rapid deployment of new Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) or drone technologies by state DOTs, as well as the growing demand for a highly trained workforce required to manage them.
More than seven out of 10 state departments of transportation have hired hundreds of staff, including highly-skilled personnel to manage drone operations. Those state DOTs, 36 in total, also reported having 279 Federal Aviation Administration certified drone pilots on staff or approximately eight pilots per state.
“The survey is just one example of how state DOTs are investing in the next-generation workforce,” said Carlos Braceras, executive director of the Utah DOT and AASHTO’s 2018-2019 president. “Five years ago, you’d be hard pressed to find any state DOT looking to hire a drone pilot or set up a UAS program—but now we’re doing both of those things in a big way.”
Read the rest of the report here.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Motorcycle Safety Is A Two-Way Street

When spring is in the air, motorcycles are everywhere. Do you long for the freedom that comes with riding on the open road? Then it's critical to respect your machine and improve your skills throughout your lifetime.
But that's only half the story. Motorists interested only in four-wheeled vehicles still have a major responsibility in keeping motorcyclists safe on the road.
In recognition of National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month in May, the National Safety Council reminds riders – and drivers – to do their part.
Check out the full story here!

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Marketing Safety: How to Tell Your Story and Move People to Action

Take a moment to check out a great Webinar from the National Center for Rural Road Safety produced with that National LTAP and TTAP Associations. It has been archived and can be viewed here.
It provided practical techniques for effective communication with stakeholders, leadership, and the public. 
Webinar OutcomesAt the conclusion of this webinar, participants were able to:
  • Explain five techniques for better communication and marketing
  • Write an engaging “teaser” to describe their job/position
  • Use a communications brief to plan outreach activities
Target Audience
This training was directed towards a very broad safety audience including, but not limited to, law enforcement, planners, engineers, first responders, elected officials, public health, tourism agencies, and safety culture experts. Participants should have some basic familiarity with transportation safety.
Course Presenters
Kevin Elliott, Senior Communication Specialist, ARA
Kevin Elliott is a Senior Marketing Specialist at Applied Research Associates, Inc. He manages creative outreach projects for clients including the Federal Highway Administration, the Florida Department of Transportation, the U.S. Air Force, and the National Institute for Standards and Technology, among others. He is also an adjunct communication professor at Florida State University Panama City. 

Monday, May 20, 2019

Ready, Set, Summer! Memorial Day Weekend Kicks Off Busy Summer Travel Season

RICHMOND, Va. – The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) is making your Memorial Day weekend travel easier by suspending most highway work zones and lifting most lane closures on interstates and other major roads in Virginia from noon Friday, May 24, until noon Tuesday, May 28.
While lane closures will be lifted in most areas, motorists may encounter semi-permanent work zones that remain in place during this time. A full list of those lane closures can be found on VDOT's website.
VDOT’s travel-trends map helps plan around historically-congested times.
VDOT's online, interactive travel-trends map shows peak congestion periods on Virginia interstates during the three previous Memorial Day holidays (2016-2018). While it cannot precisely predict when congestion will occur this year, it can help plan travel around historically busy times.
According to the map, periods of moderate to heavy congestion will occur:
  • Between 12 p.m. and 6 p.m. on both Friday and Monday
  • Saturday and Sunday midday
In addition, congestion is expected:
  • I-95 south and I-64 east from Saturday morning to Sunday afternoon
  • I-95 north and I-64 west on Monday from around noon to late in the evening
On Monday, May 27, HOV restrictions on I-66 and I-395 and rush hour tolls on the 66 Express Lanes Inside the Beltwaywill be lifted.
Go online to find directional schedules for the reversible 95 Express Lanes. The free 495 and 95 Express Lanes app lets drivers check real-time toll prices and live traffic updates. Once drivers are on the road, pricing and traffic updates will be available on overhead signs; updates will be available online via Twitter (@VAExpressLanes).
I-64/I-264/I-564 HOV diamond lanes and 64 Express Lanes: HOV restrictions and express lanes tolls are lifted on Monday, May 27. The 64 Express Lanes in Norfolk are free and open to all motorists outside of normal operating hours, including weekends. To learn more about the 64 Express Lanes, click here.
VDOT's free mobile 511 app offers information about construction, traffic, incidents and congestion as well as access to traffic cameras, weather and more. Traffic information is also available at, or by calling 511 from any phone.
To report a road problem or get answers to your transportation questions, call VDOT’s Customer Service Center at 800-FOR-ROAD (800-367-7623) around the clock.
Be cautious behind the wheel and remember that your actions impact yourself, your passengers and everyone else on the road. Do your part in making travel safer for everybody:
  • If you plan to drink, have a designated driver or use a ride service
  • Buckle up
  • Keep your eyes on the road
  • Take a break if you are drowsy
  • If you are a passenger, speak up if someone is driving distracted

Friday, May 17, 2019

CTB Renames Jefferson Davis Highway In Arlington County

ARLINGTON, Va. – At its May meeting, the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) took action on the renaming of U.S. Route 1 and Virginia Route 110 within the County of Arlington from “Jefferson Davis Highway” to “Richmond Highway,” as requested by the county. In a letter of support by Governor Ralph Northam for the renaming, read aloud at the meeting by Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine, Governor Northam said of the road’s current name, “While it is necessary for us to honestly discuss and interpret Virginia’s history, I feel strongly that commemorating the president of the Confederacy through the name of a major thoroughfare is not appropriate.” He continued, “[w]ith this change, the name of Route 1 will be Richmond Highway from Fairfax County to the Potomac River.”
The Board also took action to commemoratively name a bridge in Amherst County as the “Trooper Lucas B. Dowell Bridge” after the Virginia State Police trooper killed in the line of duty. The Amherst County Board of Supervisors presented a resolution to the CTB to name the bridge on U.S. 29 Business, South Main Street, over U.S. Route 29 in honor of Trooper Lucas B. Dowell, who served four years with the Virginia State Police.
“Trooper Dowell worked closely with VDOT crews in the Lynchburg District, and was a respected and committed partner within the Virginia State Police,” said Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine. “With this naming, we are honored to preserve his memory and legacy of bravery and public service for generations to come.”
During this meeting, the CTB took action to finalize SMART SCALE projects to be included in FY 2020-2025 Six-Year Improvement Program (SYIP). SMART SCALE is the data-driven process by which capital improvement, transportation demand management, or safety improvement projects are considered and scored, using weighted factors, including safety, congestion reduction, accessibility, land use (in larger regions), environmental quality, and economic development. 
“SMART SCALE is a transparent process that takes the politics out of project selection, and ensures the most beneficial, cost-effective projects are prioritized,” said Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine.
 “With SMART SCALE, the Commonwealth achieves greater efficiency in project development and funding through to construction,” said John Malbon, CTB member representing the Hampton Roads District. “The process allows Virginia and transportation partners predictability in planning for future investments and opportunities. We’re committed to continuing to refine the process for potential improvements as transportation needs evolve.”
The CTB will vote on the final SMART SCALE projects and the SYIP in June 2019. Projects selected will be fully funded through construction. 
In this month’s meeting, the CTB approved two contracts totaling $88.9 million.
  • An $83.2 million contract was awarded to Allan Myers VA Inc. in Glen Allen to remove existing feeder roads on Laskin Road, replace the bridge over Linkhorn Bay, and widen First Colonial Road in the Hampton Roads District. The project will improve safety and add capacity on Laskin Road and First Colonial Road. Construction is planned in phases so traffic can be maintained during construction. Completion is expected in spring 2023.
  • A $5.7 million contract was awarded to Lee Hy Paving Corporation of Glen Allen for paving in the Culpeper District.
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.
For more information:
  • Final bid results and projects:
  • CTB meeting, times and locations:

Monday, May 13, 2019

As Cars Get Better, Driving Gets Worse

Auto design has evolved from safety belts and airbags that help us survive crashes to features like lane-departure warnings and automatic emergency braking that help us avoid them. Still, the rate of distracted driving deaths rose twice as fast as overall crash deaths in the first half of this decade, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. You could argue that human intelligence isn't keeping pace with artificial intelligence.
Developing driver IQ, of course, begins at a very young age. And so does smartphone ownership.
Read the full story at the Dallas Morning News.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

VDOT To Use Portable Rumble Strips

New devices will provide extra warning and protection for both road workers and travelers
Temporary rumble stripCrews will install the portable temporary rumble strips
during daytime lane closures on two-lane roadways
RICHMOND, Va. — As part of an ongoing commitment to continually enhance and improve work zone safety, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) has added new tools, portable temporary rumble strips, to provide extra safeguards for both road workers and travelers. The announcement of these new devices comes just following National Work Zone Awareness Week, observed this year from April 8-12, 2019.
 Starting this year, portable temporary rumble strips will be installed on applicable, active work zones in Virginia. VDOT will require use of the devices for lane closures on two-lane roadways with centerline markings during daytime hours.
 Once installed, drivers will see signage warning of rumble strips ahead and to travel with caution. The rumble strips will encourage slower speeds in applicable work zones, and the sound of driving over them will alert road workers just ahead.
 “Construction season is beginning, and we need to consider every safety measure available for work zones,” said VDOT Chief Deputy Commissioner Robert Cary. “Portable temporary rumble strips will provide an additional layer of protection for everyone in work zones, whether you are working or driving. The noise and vibration caused by driving over these devices will cause both workers and drivers to pay extra attention and be alerted to changing conditions ahead.”
 In 2018, nine people – both workers and travelers – were killed in active work zones in Virginia. 2,521 work zone crashes were reported last year, which resulted in 1,256 injuries. In 2017, 12 people were killed and 1,334 were injured in work zones.
 VDOT is requiring its workforce to implement use of the rumble strips on applicable work zones starting this year. Applicable work zones performed as part of VDOT-administered projects will need to incorporate portable temporary rumble strips by July 1, 2019.
  • Video about how portable temporary rumble strips work:

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Gov. Northam Announces Agreements For Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel Project

NORFOLK—Governor Ralph Northam today announced the execution of agreements critical for advancement of the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel (HRBT) Expansion Project. The Commonwealth has signed a Project Agreement for Funding and Administration (PAFA) with the Hampton Roads Transportation Accountability Commission (HRTAC), and a Comprehensive Agreement with design-build team Hampton Roads Connector Partners for the HRBT Expansion Project.
The $3.8 billion project is expected to be completed by November 1, 2025. The Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel expansion is projected to bolster the economic competitiveness of the Hampton Roads region with more than $4.6 billion in investments and a projected 28,000 new jobs over the life of the project.
“The largest project in VDOT history, this expansion will address some of our most pressing transportation challenges and unlock opportunity for families, military personnel, and businesses not only in the Hampton Roads region, but across the Commonwealth,” said Governor Northam. “These agreements are a culmination of the diligent work and extensive negotiations by our dedicated teams over the past year to deliver significant improvements to reduce daily congestion, increase safety, and enhance connectivity throughout this key corridor.”
At its March meeting, the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) endorsed the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) Finding of Public Interest for the HRBT Expansion, and authorized execution of the PAFA. HRTAC authorized execution of the PAFA at its March meeting.
The primary source of funding for the project is HRTAC, with applications for state and federal financial support in the process of being finalized. In addition, VDOT will fund replacement of the bridge trestles on the Norfolk side.
“This generational project will increase capacity, support emergency evacuation readiness, and deliver the largest transportation asset in Virginia’s history,” said Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine. “The collaboration between the Commonwealth of Virginia and HRTAC has enabled a project that will create jobs and support commerce, tourism, shipbuilding, the Port of Virginia, and our military.”
“HRTAC is proud to have collaborated with the Commonwealth of Virginia to fund and deliver the largest project in Virginia’s history right here in the Hampton Roads region,” said HRTAC Chairman Michael Hipple. “The HRBT Expansion project will reduce congestion and improve connectivity, creating economic opportunity for the entire region.”
“The Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel Expansion Project is the most significant project in generations for Hampton Roads,” said VDOT Commissioner Stephen Brich. “This project—the largest transportation project in VDOT’s history—will ease congestion in southeastern Virginia and add much needed capacity to one of the region’s most congested corridors.”
Following today’s announcement by Governor Northam, VDOT Commissioner Stephen Brich and HRTAC Chairman Michael Hipple ceremonially signed the PAFA, and Commissioner Brich and Rafael de la Barreda, Executive Vice President of Dragados USA, ceremonially signed the Comprehensive Agreement. 
“These agreements will lead the way for a historic investment in transportation infrastructure in the Hampton Roads region,” said Delegate Chris Jones. “The improvements to the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel will significantly enhance the quality of life for all those who utilize this public asset on a daily basis.”
“Fifteen years ago, I chaired the Third Crossing Commission that set the strategy in motion that has led us to the unprecedented cooperation between local, regional, and state transportation leaders,” said Senator Frank Wagner. “To be involved in the HRBT expansion project from its first vision to now a reality has been a pinnacle of my 28 years of service in the state legislature.”  
This project will add two new two-lane tunnels. It will widen the four-lane sections of Interstate 64 in Hampton between Settlers Landing Road and the Phoebus shoreline, as well as the four-lane section of I-64 in Norfolk between the Willoughby shoreline and the I-564 interchange. More than 100,000 vehicles currently use this facility during peak travel periods.
Additional information is available on