Just after the war, Commissioner Anderson set a new objective for the state’s regrouping highway forces: Not a school day lost because of mud. Muddy roads remained a problem in many areas, particularly in winter thaws, and Anderson’s idea was to solve that dilemma while providing a solid goal toward which maintenance forces could work.
Moving in other new directions, the commission began implementing a 20-year plan for upgrading all road systems and embarked on a new program intended to replace most of the state’s remaining ferries.
As authorized by a revenue bond act passed earlier by the General Assembly, the commission decided during the 1946-47 fiscal year to construct toll bridges to replace ferry crossings on the York River at Yorktown and the Rappahannock River at Grey’s Point and to acquire from private owners the ferries that carried vehicles across Hampton Roads between the Norfolk and Lower Peninsula areas. Later, the commission was to construct a modern bridge-tunnel to replace the Hampton Roads ferries. Through separate legislation, the General Assembly would establish a special authority to replace the Chesapeake Bay ferries between the mainland and Eastern Shore with a 17.6-mile toll bridge-tunnel facility and would authorize toll financing for a few other facilities that were considered essential but for which other funds were not available. Unlike the turnpike era a century and a half earlier, this was not to be another period of widespread toll financing for roads. Relatively few were constructed in the 20th century.
By mid-1948, the state’s road program generally had recovered from the wartime slowdown. A few deferred construction projects had been completed, and many others had been started. The commission said the secondary roads were in better condition than ever before and proudly announced that “for the second consecutive winter, not one school bus day was lost because of mud on the roads.”
With that objective producing dividends, another goal was set: A reasonably passable year-round road to every reasonably located farm and rural dwelling in Virginia. It reflected the commission’s belief that “there is no comfortable living in rural Virginia without a motor vehicle and a passable year-round road.”
Progress truly was remarkable in those immediate post-war years. From 1945 to 1947 alone, the unsurfaced secondary system mileage was reduced by more than half — from 11,151 miles to 5,184 miles. As the state entered the second half of the century, its road development program was about to enter its busiest time.
Virginia in 1950 had a population of 3.3 million. Motor vehicle registration was approaching a million. The U.S. census that year would be the last showing a majority of the state’s citizens living in rural areas. Urban dwellers had grown from 35.3 percent to 47 percent of the total between 1940 and 1950. By the time of the 1960 census, 56 percent of all Virginians would be in urban areas.
Traffic volumes were exceeding estimates, and in August 1950, the commission said that many “roads designed 10, 15, and 20 years ago were incapable of handling the growing mass of heavy, fast-moving traffic. Throughout the commonwealth, the demand for road improvement was intensified… In most instances, no immediate relief is in sight… Funds simply are not available for the overnight modernization of the entire highway system… In the municipalities, the problem of providing free movement for traffic became increasingly acute. Huge sums will be required to alleviate traffic congestion in Virginia towns and cities.”
Five years later, the commission said again that it felt “a growing concern regarding Virginia’s highway needs. People who use our highways are continuing to pay a big price in lives and money because of inadequacies on our roads. Statistics prove that the better road is the safer road. Highways with controlled intersections, with entrances and exits only at designated points, have fewer fatalities in relation to traffic volumes than do highways that lack such controls.”
It was almost as if the commission knew what was around the next corner.
Produced by the
Virginia Department of Transportation
Office of Public Affairs
1401 E. Broad Street
Richmond, VA 23219
A history of roads in Virginia: Seeking direction at the national level
At the national level, politicians and experts were debating the future direction of transportation policy. For almost four decades, it had been unified by a grand vision, the construction of the interstate highway system. As the last piece of that system was completed and that vision was realized, federal policy no longer had a riveting theme.
Not only that, ear-marking federal funds for particular state and local projects was diffusing the focus at the national level, as the 2005 federal transportation act demonstrated. The act, called SAFETEA-LU (Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users) authorized spending on an unprecedented number of congressionally designated projects. However, it did focus strongly on safety, a new core program in the federal legislation. Under it, states were required to develop a strategic highway safety plan with goals for reducing highway
fatalities and injuries. Virginia was already taking steps in that direction by establishing “Highway Safety Corridors” on high-crash stretches of interstate. In these corridors, state police enforced speed limits more aggressively and higher fines were imposed.
Planners also were asking complicated questions presented by transportation progress in recent decades, such as: How much did the interstate contribute to the break-up of communities? Do transportation projects create sprawl? Should population density of communities be created or changed to support public transit?
Practical problems emerged. An aging population continued to want mobility, in contrast to earlier generations of elderly; and the transportation system needed modification for their continued use. Global trade was expected to double in 20 years, with growing impact on the transportation network—especially in states like Virginia where traffic to major East Coast ports crowds streets and highways.
A history of roads in Virginia: Outsourcing and privatization become key orientations
When Gregory A. Whirley, VDOT inspector general, was named acting transportation commissioner in 2005, he noted the dramatic improvements VDOT and its contracting firms had made in delivering projects on time and within budget. In 2001, only 20 percent of construction projects were finished on time, but by 2006, 83 percent were. Similarly at the turn of the century, 51 percent of the contracts were built within budget, but by 2006 that figure rose to almost 88 percent. Despite this improvement, the commissioner advised employees that they were now competing with the public sector, which might want to perform more of the department’s traditional functions.
The 2006 General Assembly reinforced that possibility by requiring the transportation commissioner to report annually on VDOT’s efforts to outsource, privatize and downsize. This was in the context of the legislators’ debate about how to finance the transportation system in the long term. Projections showed that by 2018, no state funds would be available for construction as the growing maintenance costs of an aging highway system siphoned off construction funds. The debate over new taxes for transportation continued throughout the spring of 2006, delaying approval of a new state budget by a record number of days.
Chipped windshields: repair or replace?
If your windshield gets chipped, it’s important to fix it right away. Chips and cracks rarely stay small and can compromise the strength of your windshield, thereby limiting the protection provided in the event of an accident. Besides, if you deal with the problem promptly, you can often forgo a replacement in favor of a repair. Here’s what you should know.
When is repair possible?
A professional can usually repair a chipped windshield if the following five conditions are met:
1. The chip’s no larger than an inch in diameter.
2. There’s at least a 1.5-inch gap between the point of impact and the edge of the windshield.
3. The chip isn’t within the driver’s field of vision.
4. There are no more than two or three chips to repair.
5. Only the outer layer of glass is damaged.
If these five conditions don’t apply, then chances are you’ll need to replace your windshield. And you’ll want to have this done as soon as possible, as it’s a matter of your safety.
Did you know?
Depending on the specifics of your insurance plan, you may be reimbursed for the costs of your windshield repair. Moreover, the repair shouldn’t affect your premiums or insurance record. Check with your provider to be sure.
A history of roads in Virginia: Persistent pressures on the infrastructure
Relentless pressures mounted on the transportation system in the new century. Motorists’ use of Virginia highways continued to grow rapidly — from 165 million miles traveled daily in 1990 to 220 million by 2005, an increase of 33 percent. Traffic congestion intensified accordingly. Virginia’s transportation infrastructure also was aging, needing repairs and sometimes reconstruction. Because funding for improvements and maintenance was stretched thin, innovative measures were taken to get more out of the network and the dollars appropriated for it.
There also was a new emphasis on operating highways more efficiently, moving traffic smoothly and clearing up traffic incidents swiftly. Smart traffic centers were built in Staunton and Salem similar to those in Northern Virginia, Hampton Roads and metroRichmond. The state also was divided into five operational regions in which traffic controllers and engineers facilitated traffic flow along major corridors. For motorists who called 511 or visited the Internet site at 511va.org, real-time traffic information was available, enabling them to modify travel plans and avoid backups. And by 2005, motorists with Smart Tag or E-ZPass transponders could travel seamlessly along the East Coast without having to stop to pay tolls.
How to identify a car with high resale value: 4 considerations
If you’re in the market for a new vehicle and are concerned with its future resale price, here are four things you’ll want to pay close attention to.
Popular car models are a safe bet. There will always be buyers for Honda Civics, Toyota Corollas, Ford F-150s and other tried-and-true models. Discontinued vehicles, on the other hand, are far less in demand.
Unless you’re getting a high-end sports car, you should avoid bright paint colors like red or yellow. Most people prefer black, white, silver or gray cars, and you restrict the pool of interested buyers by choosing an unconventional hue.
A car equipped with a navigation system, a backup camera, adaptive cruise control and other modern accessories will be easier to sell than one with only standard features. You can expect these extras to be available in an increasing number of vehicles in the years to come and therefore in ever greater demand among car buyers.
4. Extended warranty
Getting an extended warranty on your new car may pay off. In addition to covering the cost of certain repairs when the manufacturer’s warranty expires, it’s also a selling point for potential buyers, as it makes your car a safer investment. After all, used car buyers tend to worry about purchasing a secondhand vehicle only to discover undisclosed issues down the line. Since car warranties are based on the vehicle identification number (VIN), they’re valid for the full term, regardless of ownership.
Thinking ahead and making smart choices when shopping for a car is important. However, it’s equally crucial that you take proper care of your vehicle after you buy it. Stick to the recommended maintenance schedule, and deal with problems right away, before they get worse. Also, be sure to hold onto all your receipts, as you can use them as proof that you took proper care of your car.
A history of roads in Virginia: New thinking about multimodalism
In 2004, as important projects to move cars and trucks were being built, the CTB adopted a policy for integrating bicycle and pedestrian accommodations into the road-building decision-making process. Shortly thereafter, a comprehensive long-range multimodal transportation plan for the commonwealth was developed. Mandated by the General Assembly, the plan is called VTrans2025.
State officials, technical experts, planners, federal officials and citizens conferred in producing the plan. Recommendations in it included additional funding for transportation, new technologies for congestion management, and greater compatibility of land use and transportation planning. VTrans2025 put special focus, however, on transportation projects that connect transit, pedestrian, bike and rail modes.