News Briefs

Watch Out In Work Zones

Duane DrewJuly 17, 2020: Paying attention while driving is important, especially in a work zone.

It’s also important to pay attention while working in a work zone. You never know what might happen.

Recently, Duane Drew, a Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) Richmond District drill crew employee, learned this on Interstate 95 in Richmond. 

“We had a pavement coring operation going on in the right lane heading north when an SUV struck the crash truck right behind us,” Duane said. “When we turned, it had come to a stop in the center lane.”

Drew, a 10-year VDOT employee, said his training helped him respond effectively.

“I went to see if everyone was okay, opened the passenger door and helped them and the driver out,” he said.

Shortly after getting the occupants to safety, flames fully engulfed the vehicle.

Drew hopes drivers take better care when they see the flashing lights on maintenance vehicles.

“Letting drivers know to move over and slow down is big,” he said.

“It’s important when drivers see colored lights on the road – red, blue or amber – they move over and slow down.”

Face Masks For First Responders

VDOT employees organize mask donationJuly 14, 2020: As COVID-19 spread across the United States, with increasing reports of cases among first responders, Ning Li wanted to make a difference.

“Masks are a primary way to prevent the spread of the virus,” said Ning, who is acting assistant state traffic engineer and traffic asset program manager for the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT).

“With our police, firefighters and first responders putting their lives on the lines every day, we wanted to help ensure their safety.”

Ning and Enhua Liu, VDOT transportation modeler, started a call for mask donations among the Richmond Chinese American Community (RCAC) for local police and fire teams.

Within a few weeks, RCAC raised enough money to purchase nearly 15,000 masks from China, which were donated to public safety teams in Henrico and Chesterfield counties and Richmond.

A significant portion of the donation was funded or facilitated by VDOT employees.

“We, like many others, are just doing our small part to help the community to fight COVID-19,” Ning said. “Together, we will get through this.”

The deputy county manager of Henrico County, as well as the police and fire chiefs in Richmond and Henrico County, expressed their gratitude to Ning and RCAC.

Moving Day

cliff swallow being relocatedJune 26, 2020: Before the Chatham Bridge closed to traffic for a major improvement project, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) needed to relocate some very important residents -- cliff swallows. 

The birds nest in the concrete niches under the bridge. For the safety of the nestlings, who cannot yet fly, VDOT environmental specialists Mark Haus and Stephen Sharpeta removed 100 cliff swallows and nine eggs from 42 nests on the bridge over the Rappahannock River in mid-June. 

The relocation was carefully planned in coordination with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which issued a permit for the operation.

Using a "snooper" truck, which can extend a mechanical arm and basket under the bridge for work crews, the birds were carefully retrieved one by one from the nests by hand.

They were immediately taken to The Wildlife Center of Virginia in Waynesboro, where they will be cared for until they can be returned to the wild.

Freshwater mussels will also be relocated from the Rappahannock River before construction of the causeway begins. The mussel relocation is another part ofVDOT's project commitment to state and federal environmental agencies. 

The Chatham Bridge connects Stafford County and downtown Fredericksburg, and closed to traffic on Monday, June 22. The bridge will reopen in October 2021.

Learn more about the project at virginiadot.org/chathambridge. Thanks goes to project contractor Joseph B. Fay Co. for assisting with the cliff swallows retrieval effort. 

Page last modified: July 17, 2020