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VDot News - August 1


Upgrades to 511 Traveler Information System Reflect Customer Feedback

RICHMOND—Stuck in traffic? Looking to avoid construction delays while you are planning your trip? Seeking public transportation alternatives to improve your commute? Thanks to an improved 511 telephone information system, getting the latest details about traveling Virginia ’s highways just got easier.

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) has upgraded its 511 system to reflect improvements suggested from users. 511 Virginia is a one-stop traffic information center where motorists can find out the latest information about road conditions, construction delays and other incidents that will impact their travels. As of Aug. 1, the new phone system will include:

· Improved voice-recognition software

· A better menu structure to make traffic information easier to find, reducing the time it takes to navigate the voice-recognition menus

· New features such as bridge and tunnel information, public transportation options and emergency messages

· Easier navigation to the most-used features of the 511 system

“511 represents a significant tool to help ease congestion, improve safety and provide us a way to keep drivers informed about real-time traffic and travel information before they leave home and while they are on the road,” said VDOT Commissioner David. S. Ekern. “Keeping Virginia moving is about more than paving roads and patching potholes. By providing accurate and timely traveler information through 511, highway message signs and radio broadcasts, we are able to maximize the efficiency of our current highway network and keep motorists safe while they are on the road.”

VDOT launched its 511 system statewide in February 2005, after piloting the program in the Shenandoah Valley . Since its inception in 2002 as Travel Shenandoah, 511 Virginia has received 3.7 million calls and 1.4 million Web site visits. Virginia is one of about 30 states currently offering a 511 system, providing one number to call for traffic information around the country.

Motorists can dial 5-1-1 from any landline or cell phone in Virginia . Those calling from out of state can also access the system via a new toll-free number, (866) MY511VA [(866) 695-1182]. The same traveler information, along with additional features such as maps and trip-planning resources, is available at

The 511 system is part of VDOT’s continuing focus to maximize the number of vehicles that can travel on existing Virginia highways while addressing the congestion in Northern Virginia , Hampton Roads and other urban regions. Through strategic investments in traveler information programs, a focus on emergency response, coordinating transportation and land-use planning, and a partnership with public transportation and transit agencies, VDOT is using several strategies to address today’s transportation issues. The travel information and assistance programs are an integral part of VDOT’s congestion management efforts, along with developing additional road improvements and multi-modal transportation programs to address future transportation needs.

The 511 system improvements will continue as VDOT collects customer feedback through research programs and as users leave recorded messages or send correspondence about 511.

“We are listening to the hundreds of comments we receive each month and looking to help our customers, the motorists of Virginia and those who are passing through the commonwealth, to have safer, more reliable travels,” Ekern said.

For more information about 511 and other transportation-related information, visit, or


Driver training now includes roundabout instruction

RICHMOND – They aren’t just scenic spins in the countryside, nor are they circular tangles in foreign cities. At least 35 roundabout intersections are sprinkled throughout Virginia , and 26 more have been approved for construction. They are safer than traditional intersections with traffic signals, and they may cost less to build in certain locations, too.

Most drivers appreciate the simple, safe design of roundabouts, but it is natural to be apprehensive when approaching one for the first time. To help motorists maneuver through roundabouts, the Virginia Department of Transportation teamed with the Department of Education and the Department of Motor Vehicles to develop a new driver’s education curriculum. Now students learning to drive in Virginia will view a video and a narrated slide show on safely navigating roundabout intersections. Some 3,300 copies of “Driving Modern Roundabouts – Rules of the Road” and “Roundabouts – The Virginia Experience” have been distributed to both public and private driver’s education teachers throughout the Commonwealth.

The video was the brainchild of VDOT’s Roundabout Committee, assisted by the Washington State Department of Transportation and the Virginia State Police.

“Roundabouts are found all over the world, and we’re now seeing the benefits of them in Virginia ,” said Commonwealth Transportation Commissioner David S. Ekern, P.E. “Quite simply, this is why we need them: they reduce crashes, traffic delays, fuel consumption and air pollution. And if that isn’t enough, roundabouts can cost less to build and maintain. They are one of the safest at-grade intersections.”

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety supports Virginia ’s roundabout efforts, and the institute’s research attests to safety of the circular intersections. Roundabouts have been shown to reduce fatal and injury crashes as much as 75 percent. Reduction in crashes is due to slower speeds and fewer potential conflict points than are found in traditional intersections. Other benefits include the elimination of maintenance and electricity costs required for traffic signals and the aesthetic opportunity to beautify the intersection’s central island with landscaping.

Seasoned drivers also may learn about driving through roundabouts from the new educational video and slide show, which are posted on VDOT’s Web site at


July 2007


* Routes 29 and 60 Amherst County
* Christopher Newport University Newport News
* Routes 649 and 606 at Airport, off of Route 29 Albemarle County
* Wal-Mart/Home Depot, west of Route 17 Gloucester
* Virginia Tech, Washington Street/West Campus Drive Blacksburg
* Route 13/Courthouse Area Powhatan County
* Virginia Union University , Lombardy Street Richmond
* Winchester Airport Winchester
* Gander Mountain , off of Route 11/37 Frederick County
* Route 3254 Tartan Hills Parkway/Route 3256 Broadsword Dr. Prince William Co.
* Route 3080 Braemar Parkway /Route 3089 Iona Sound Dr . Prince William Co.
* Route 706 Asdee Lane /Route 3380 Greatbridge Road Prince William Co.
* Route 3380 Greatbridge Road/Chanceford Drive Prince William Co.
* Route 1125 Cabin Road /Stonewall Manor Drive Prince William Co.
* Forest Lakes Subdivision (2) Albemarle County
* Hollymead Towne Center (2) Albemarle County
* Old Trail Subdivision (3) Crozet
* Crawford Street Portsmouth
* Routes 4796 and 935, Chesterfield Centre Parkway Chesterfield County
* Meade Road , off of Route 460 Bedford County
* Kentland Subdivision New Kent County
* Bell Creek and Pole Green Road (2) Hanover County
* Manakin Farms Goochland County
* The Parke at Centre Pointe Goochland County
* Monument and Allen Avenues Richmond
* West Creek (3) Goochland County
* Routes 15 and 231 Gordonsville
* Mary Washington Hospital Campus, off of Cowan Blvd. Fredericksburg


VDOT invites DBE and SWAM firms to learn about upcoming construction

RICHMOND – As major transportation projects unfold in Northern Virginia, significant subcontracting opportunities will arrive for Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBEs) and Small, Women-owned and Minority-owned (SWAM) businesses to provide products and services to the construction industry.

“Mega construction projects such as the Woodrow Wilson Bridge expansion, I-495 HOT lanes, Dulles Corridor rail, and the Base Realignment and Closure effort generate lots of opportunity for all sorts of business owners,” said Grindly Johnson, chief of equal business and employee opportunity for the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT). “We’re eager to let businesses know how they can help us, and how we can help them.”

A special outreach event is planned by VDOT to assist companies in learning about opportunities for subcontracting on these mega projects. The open house event is planned for Friday, Aug. 24, from 8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. at the Hilton Hotel located in Springfield at 6550 Loisdale Road. Specially targeted to attend are companies certified as DBE or SWAM vendors. Other companies are welcome that may be eligible to certify as DBE or SWAM firms. Representatives from the Department of Minority Business Enterprise will be available to help eligible companies gain these certifications.

During the event, participants may visit exhibits containing information about each project and its business opportunities. Exhibits will be staffed by representatives who can answer questions. Formal presentations on each project will be made twice – at 9:30 a.m. and again at 1 p.m. Exhibits featuring prime transportation contractors also will be on display.

Mega projects have an estimated cost approaching $1 billion or more and usually have a high level of public and/or Congressional interest. Mega projects can involve aviation, rail, transit and highway. Currently, there are at least 15 mega projects in some stage of design and construction across the U.S., with several in Northern Virginia.

Among the Northern Virginia mega projects are these, representing an investment of more than $7 billion dollars:

· Woodrow Wilson Bridge expansion – the last major project is the reconstruction of the I-95/Telegraph Road interchange that will widen I-95 from nine to 12 lanes and improve on- and off-ramp movements at Telegraph Road.

· Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project – Phase 1 is the extension of the existing Metrorail Orange Line to Wiehle Avenue in Reston. Work includes track construction, station construction, utilities relocation, and tunnel and bridge construction.

· High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes on Interstate 495 – two lanes in each direction will be added outside the existing lanes of the Capital Beltway for a distance of about 14 miles between the American Legion Bridge and the Springfield Interchange. All ramps, interchanges, frontage roads, bridges and other crossings that require expansion or other work to accommodate the new lanes are included. Construction could begin in spring 2008.

· High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes on I-95/395 – for a distance of 56 miles, one HOV/HOT lane will be added to existing HOV lanes, and two new HOT lanes will be built from Route 234 to Massaponax. Construction could begin in late 2008.

· I-95 widening in Fairfax and Prince Williams counties – for a distance of six miles, a fourth general purpose lane will be added in each direction from Route 123 at the Occoquan River to Route 7100 (Fairfax County Parkway). Work also includes widening 10 bridges, including two over the Occoquan River; constructing 16 retaining walls; installing storm pipe; and installing eight sound barriers.

· Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) – several proposed road projects are associated with this Congressional action that requires Fort Belvoir to accommodate more than 22,000 additional Department of Defense employees. Although design and construction of the Fairfax County Parkway Extension through the Engineering Proving Grounds has been funded, funds for other BRAC road improvements have not yet been identified.

Registration for the business outreach event is available on-line at or by calling (703) 329-3433. For more information about the event, call VDOT at (703) 383-2345 (TTY/TDD users, call 711).

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