News Briefs

A Fine Dam Tool For Clearing Drains

the tool fabricated by vdotJan. 21, 2021: Last fall, the Richmond District Shop at the Virginia Department of Transportation fabricated a ram attachment for the Prince George area headquarters to use in its ongoing battle against beaver dams.

The dams block pipes and other drainage facilities in Dinwiddie and Prince George counties.

“The Petersburg Residency requested a ram be built” for a grading machine, said Richmond District Equipment Shop Manager Travis Elliott. “They borrowed one from the Waverly area headquarters and it worked great for them.”

Travis said Scott Ohrum, the shop’s welder / fabricator, traveled to Waverly to examine the attachment and to understand how it was made.

“The ram is the first of its kind that has been made here in the district," said Elliott. "Scott ... did a great job.”

The tool was constructed from a 20-foot piece of half-inch H beam that was then boxed in with half-inch plate.

The ram was welded to a plate that fit the grader.

Fabricating the tool required seven arc welding passes on each side to ensure proper penetration.

“The plate used to box in the H beam was welded every other four inches for the entire length of the ram,” Elliott said.

Petersburg Residency Administrator Crystal Smith said the shop deserves recognition for developing this tool so quickly.

“It was completed in just two weeks,” she said. “They had very little information from us to go on and were able to work magic to get this to us in such a short time frame.

"This will save us a ton of time, and we are just so pleased.”

Improvement at Routes 288 and 250

Routes 288 and 250Recently, the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Richmond District completed work on an interchange improvement at routes 288 and 250 (Broad Street Road) in Goochland County.

District residents and county officials have been excited about the project, which enhances safety and operations at the interchange.

It includes additional turn lanes and traffic signals for higher traffic volumes and increased safety.

Previously, drivers had to wait to turn across traffic headed west, which would back up to the limit of the single turn lane.

Marcos Kocolis, Richmond District construction manager, appreciates how the district’s environmental, materials, contract and traffic engineering teams worked together.

“There is a lot behind-the-scenes to get new signals into service. Each location has its challenges,” Kocolis said. “The contractor [Curtis Contracting Inc.] had an experienced team that worked well with the department.”

He said these improvements are important because counties around Richmond continue to grow.

“As Broad Street expands on the West End, projects like these will keep traffic safe and flowing,” he said.

The project took about seven months to complete at a cost of about $3.7 million.

VDOT Employee Helps Make History

Dec. 9, 2020: Brian Staples, a bridge maintenance specialist in the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Lynchburg District, has an unusual hobby.

It resulted in a unique donation to the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford.

Staples is a member of a model builders club that is part of the Internal Plastic Modelers Society (IPMS) and the Armor Modelers Preservation Society (AMPS).

Through this group, he has participated in numerous conventions and contests, learning the history behind the kits that are built and demonstrating his knowledge during show-and-tell discussions.

When another club member, Hugh Scrogham, passed away, 500 of his unassembled model kits remained and were donated to a veterans group for completion.

Among the unfinished builds was one special model that Staples and club member Bill Eggl took on -- a model of German U-boat.

“Bill did most of the build, Staples said. “He is retired, 84 years old, and spent the most time … I spent some time helping with the subassemblies.”

As club photographer and newsletter editor, Staples documented the effort in detail.

Once complete, the U-boat, along with various military uniforms and other World War II artifacts from Hugh’s collection, were donated to the D-Day memorial and are now on display.

“We are so glad that his memory lives on through his contribution to the D-Day Memorial,” Staples said.

Learn more about Hugh Scrogham’s legacy.

Counting the Crayfish

Counting crayfishDec. 7, 2020: The Virginia Department of Transportation's Bristol environmental division recently conducted a Big Sandy crayfish survey in the Russell Fork River, one of just a handful of rivers where the creature remains.

The Big Sandy crayfish (Cambarus callianus) is a freshwater crustacean found in streams and rivers in the Appalachian region of Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia.

In May 2016, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the Big Sandy crayfish as a threatened species.

The environmental team performed the survey due to an upcoming VDOT bridge superstructure replacement project.

That project may affect the crayfish.

“Presence of the Big Sandy crayfish is assumed for this section of the Russell Fork,” said Bristol Environmental Natural Resource Specialist Ethan Virts. “We conducted the survey to confirm their presence and get the current population numbers of the Big Sandy crayfish in anticipation of the upcoming bridge work.”

Assisting with the survey was Brian Watson, aquatic resources biologist / malacologist for the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources.

Twelve Big Sandy crayfish were captured and released.

Page last modified: Jan. 21, 2021