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A history of roads in Virginia: Administrative belt-tightening

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VDOT employees in the Negotiation Processing Center, Right of Way Division, prepare letters to landowners and attorneys.

In 1980, the General Assembly ordered the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee (JLARC) to review the department’s operations and finances and recommend changes to make the best use of the resources available. Between July 1, 1978, and Nov. 1, 1981, employment in the department statewide was cut from 12,865 to 11,030, a reduction of more than 14 percent. The cutbacks were partly the result of the JLARC evaluation, which recommended reductions in manpower.

While most of the decline was accomplished by attrition, some employees were laid off from their jobs. The lower payroll costs cut approximately $15 million from the budget each year.

The employment decline reflected a determination to streamline the organization, but to a greater degree it was a reflection of the shrinking highway program.

Despite cutbacks in personnel and efforts to save money, the funding situation became increasingly severe, prompting the Department of Highways and Transportation to reassess the status and public use of substandard roads and bridges throughout the state.

Local governments were asked in 1981 to identify what they regarded as their most serious highway needs. The result of that request was the development of the SixYear Improvement Program for the highway system. The program was adopted on July 1, 1982, and it established a schedule of construction and reconstruction projects for the interstate, primary, and urban road systems in Virginia on a priority basis.

Produced by the
Virginia Department of Transportation
Office of Public Affairs
1401 E. Broad Street
Richmond, VA 23219
VirginiaDOT.org

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A history of roads in Virginia: New directions

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Traffic volumes on Virginia highways continued to climb in the 1970s and ‘80s. Congestion led to  creation of HOV lanes (right).

Still concerned about a rapidly growing backlog of highway, bridge, and public transit needs, the 1982 General Assembly provided a substantial increase in funds to shore up the state’s lagging transportation budget.

In doing so, the legislature averted a revenue crisis of major proportions that had threatened to bring the state’s highway system improvements to an abrupt halt.

By enacting a 3 percent oil excise tax, plus increases in motor vehicle registration and several other highway-user fees, the legislature authorized an estimated $263 million in additional money — $224 million for highway and bridge construction and reconstruction and $39 million to assist local public transportation systems with capital and administrative costs.

The new funds enabled the state to move forward with transportation improvements that otherwise would have been deferred indefinitely or, in some instances, abandoned entirely.

Out of the revenue collected for highway use, maintenance of the existing roads was paid first, as mandated by the General Assembly in 1977. This meant that a loss of funds had to be absorbed by the construction program. Escalating maintenance costs and the sagging highway budget left several districts’ construction programs in danger of collapse. Though lawmakers repeatedly tried to deal with the problem by increasing gas taxes, falling sales left only a string of broken promises to build new or expanded roads.

The answer to the transportation crisis of the mid-1980s clearly was to find a new and stable revenue source. Some thought that explosive growth in areas like Northern Virginia and Tidewater made the “pay-as-you-go” method of financing highway construction projects obsolete; urbanization had occurred too quickly for road construction to keep pace, particularly in light of the revenue decline and increased costs seen throughout the ‘70s.

Produced by the
Virginia Department of Transportation
Office of Public Affairs
1401 E. Broad Street
Richmond, VA 23219
VirginiaDOT.org

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Professional detailing: a car maintenance must

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Maintaining your car involves a number of tasks. These include filling the gas tank, changing the oil and replacing the tires when they’re worn. However, what you may not realize is that professional detailing is a key part of your vehicle’s upkeep.

What’s included
More than just a car wash, detailing involves thoroughly cleaning your car both inside and out. The outside gets washed with a mild detergent and then dried, polished and sealed to keep it clean for as long as possible. Cleaning the inside includes vacuuming the seats, shampooing the upholstery and carpets and thoroughly washing the dash, doors and windows.

Benefits of regular detailing
There are two main benefits that come from detailing your car on a regular basis: it protects your paint and it removes contaminants from the cabin. Here’s why these two things are important.

• Protecting your paint
The paint on your car does more than just make it look good. In fact, it plays an important role in protecting it from corrosion. Stains left behind by tree sap, leaves and even bird droppings can eventually damage auto paint. If there are places on your car where the paint has flaked off, it will leave the body exposed to contaminants like road salt and mud which can cause metal components to rust.

• Getting rid of contaminants
Dust, germs and other allergens will accumulate inside your car cabin no matter how tidy you keep it. If not cleaned thoroughly once in a while, these particles can start to make you and your passengers feel sick.

DIY vs. pro detailing
Some people prefer to detail their cars at home, but most lack the proper equipment. Unfortunately, using the wrong sponge or soap can scratch the paint of your car. But even with the right tools on hand, detailing a car is an involved and time-consuming task that’s best left to the pros.

Recommended frequency
How often you should get your car detailed will depend on how often and where you use it. Generally speaking, however, getting your car detailed two or three times a year is a good idea. Your car will look great, your paint will be protected and you’ll be healthier to boot.

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Fall car care: protecting your paint from falling leaves

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Come autumn, the days start to get cooler and the leaves begin to fall. Though the colorful foliage may look pretty, it’s best to keep it away from your car.

Unfortunately, deciduous leaves contain acidic substances like sap and pollen that can penetrate your car’s clear coat and stain the paint. Fallen leaves can also clog your vehicle’s drains and air filters, which can result in the rusting of components and the arrival of unpleasant odors.

Keep leaves at bay

Here are a few ways to protect your car by steering clear of fallen leaves.

• Don’t park under trees. This is the most obvious solution, but it isn’t always possible. If you can’t avoid parking near trees, try to position your car near one that’s already lost most of its leaves.

• Remove debris right away. The best way to get rid of leaves is to remove them by hand. Using a brush or broom can cause the leaves to scratch your paint.

• Invest in a car cover. If you want to eliminate the possibility that leaves might damage the paint on your car, be sure to cover it when it’s parked. This will also protect your vehicle from heavy rain, dust, snow and ice.

Remove leaf stains
If your car’s exterior is already stained by leaves, you should first remove any sap that’s stuck to the surface with a liquid car wash solution and a clean microfiber cloth. Polish it dry with a second one.

Afterwards, use denatured alcohol, distilled white vinegar or a product specifically designed for gentle stain removal. Once the marks are gone, wash your vehicle once more with the car wash solution.

Conduct a pre-winter wash
Once all the leaves have fallen for the season, wash your car a final time to remove all traces of pollen and sap from the paint. Afterwards, apply a good quality wax. It will help protect your car from the upcoming winter weather.

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A history of roads in Virginia: Into the 80s – new financing and building methods

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In 1980, the General Assembly approved an increase in the state motor fuel tax to provide millions of dollars more for the highway program.

In Virginia as in other states, the new decade was marked by a highway construction and improvement program caught in a tightening squeeze caused by inflation and a drop in revenue.

The dilemma was compounded by sharply higher maintenance expenses required simply to take care of the existing state road system and its bridges.

As a result, the amount of new construction fell to its lowest level in five years. In the 1978-79 fiscal year, 206 contracts totaling $326.5 million were awarded for work on 215 miles. The following year, the commission was able to award only 143 contracts, amounting to $190.6 million, to build or improve 90 miles of the system.

Without some action, it was estimated that by 1991 maintenance costs would take all the revenue generated by the gas tax, leaving no money at all for new construction.

Not only were construction funds decreasing, they were on a roller coaster ride. They plunged from $233 million in 1975 to $117 million two years later, only to rebound to $200 million in 1980 and then to drop again, to $95 million in 1982. Meaningful planning became impossible.

Coupled with spiraling costs, income from state highway-user taxes dropped below levels anticipated and appropriated.

Commissioner Harold C. King, a former Federal Highway Administration official who had been appointed to the state position in 1978, reported on the overall situation in a December 1979 letter to Gov. John N. Dalton and members of the General Assembly:

“Virginia’s highway construction and improvement program is in jeopardy. It is entirely possible that within the 1980-82 biennium, it will become necessary to forego any new state-financed improvements, and to reserve state construction money to match federal aid. In the 1982-84 biennium, it may be impossible to match federal aid, thus risking the loss of millions of dollars needed to complete our interstate routes and to improve bridges and other existing highway facilities.”

After much consideration, the 1980 General Assembly approved a 2-cents-a-gallon increase in the state motor fuel tax. The increase provided approximately $576 million more annually for the state highway program.

Barely had the state legislative session ended, however, when federal authorities announced the curtailment of the federal-aid program nationwide, dealing a second blow to an already sparse transportation budget.

After extensive conferences with federal authorities, the commission was authorized to begin projects totaling about $126 million, some $16 million below the level anticipated before the cutback was imposed.

By 1980, Virginia continued to maintain the nation’s third-largest highway system, with 52,600 miles of interstate, arterial, primary, and secondary roads, behind only North Carolina and Texas.

In addition, the state provided financial aid to 67 cities and towns with populations over 3,500 to assist them in maintaining about 8,100 miles of local streets.

At the beginning of the decade, the state system also included approximately 12,000 bridges, with approximately 500 more bridges within the municipalities. Even in a time of high fuel prices, motorists drove an average of more than 100 million miles daily on state highways and streets.

Approximately 3.2 million Virginians were licensed drivers in 1980, and 4 million motor vehicles were registered.

Produced by the
Virginia Department of Transportation
Office of Public Affairs
1401 E. Broad Street
Richmond, VA 23219
VirginiaDOT.org

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How to avoid hydroplaning

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Your car can hydroplane on any wet surface, but it’s most likely to do so during the first ten minutes of a light rainfall. This is because rain stirs up oil and other substances on the road, which then pool and combine to create a slick surface that your tires may not be able to grip.

Drive defensively in the rain
If you’re driving in wet conditions, take these precautions to avoid hydroplaning.

• Slow down. When it starts to rain, reduce your speed. Your car is most likely to hydroplane when it’s moving at faster than 35 miles per hour. You should also avoid suddenly speeding up or slowing down.

• Stay away from standing water. Hydroplaning can occur even if there’s only a small amount of water on the road. If you see standing water, try to avoid it. Chances are, your car will slip or skid if you don’t.

• Turn off the cruise control. It’s best to be in full control of your car when road conditions are challenging. In addition, cruise control can make hydroplaning more dangerous because it prevents you from reducing your speed.

Don’t panic if you hydroplane
If your car does start to hydroplane, remain calm. Take your foot off the gas and slowly turn the steering wheel in the direction the car is turning. Don’t use your brake. You’ll feel it when your car regains contact with the road.

Tires and hydroplaning
The grooves that run along your tires are there to sluice water out of the way and enable your wheels to maintain contact with the road. Having tires that are in good condition can drastically reduce your likelihood of hydroplaning.

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A loose timeline for key car maintenance tasks

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Taking care of your car pays off. In fact, regularly maintaining your vehicle results in it having a longer lifespan, providing better gas mileage, requiring fewer repairs and having a higher resale value.

Though the precise schedule for your vehicle’s maintenance tasks depends on its make and model (check your owner’s manual for specifics), here’s a rough guideline indicating approximately when to perform them.

Every 3,000 miles or monthly.

Inspect the air pressure in and overall condition of your tires, including the spare.

Every 3,000 to 10,000 miles.
Replace the motor oil and oil filter.

Every 6,000 to 8,000 miles.
Rotate and balance your tires. This ensures that they won’t wear unevenly or prematurely. You should also inspect your brake discs and pads at this time.

Every 15,000 to 30,000 miles.
Change the air filters to improve air flow and engine performance. City drivers and those with seasonal allergies should replace them more frequently.

Every 60,000 to 100,000 miles.
Replace your timing belt. This engine component is made of rubber and can dry up, crack and break, causing your engine to fail.

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‘Tis the Season

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Front Royal
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Feels like: 41°F
Wind: 3mph S
Humidity: 89%
Pressure: 29.84"Hg
UV index: 0
TueWedThu
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Upcoming Events

Nov
19
Tue
1:30 pm Botanical Drawing II: Drawing in... @ Art in the Valley
Botanical Drawing II: Drawing in... @ Art in the Valley
Nov 19 @ 1:30 pm – 4:00 pm
Botanical Drawing II: Drawing in Color @ Art in the Valley
Learn and practice the art of botanical drawing in colored pencil with local artist and instructor Elena Maza. This four week course will focus on continuing to build drawing skills as applied to botanicals: students[...]
4:30 pm Science Scouts and More @ Samuels Public Library
Science Scouts and More @ Samuels Public Library
Nov 19 @ 4:30 pm – 6:00 pm
Science Scouts and More @ Samuels Public Library
Tuesday, November 5: Kids will explore popular books and book series through science, games, food, and more! Based on the book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, we will do some taffy pulling and have a[...]
Nov
20
Wed
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Nov 20 @ 10:15 am – 12:00 pm
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
10:15 Toddler story time | 11:00 Preschool story time Wednesday, November 6 and Thursday, November 7: It’s playtime! Come in for stories, songs, and a craft about our favorite toys, games, and imaginings! Siblings welcome.[...]
1:30 pm Botanicals in Watercolor I @ Art in the Valley
Botanicals in Watercolor I @ Art in the Valley
Nov 20 @ 1:30 pm – 4:00 pm
Botanicals in Watercolor I @ Art in the Valley
This four week course with instructor, Elena Maza, will deal with the basic three-primary color palette, different pigments and how they interact, how to mix all colors from three primary colors, how to apply washes,[...]
7:00 pm Drama Performance: “Loserville” @ Melton Memorial Gymnasium | R-MA
Drama Performance: “Loserville” @ Melton Memorial Gymnasium | R-MA
Nov 20 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Drama Performance: "Loserville" @ Melton Memorial Gymnasium | R-MA
On Wednesday, November 20th, and Thursday, November 21st, Randolph-Macon Academy’s Performing Arts Department will present its 2019 fall production of Elliot Davis’ and James Bourne’s musical, Loserville. The musical, which will take place in Melton[...]
Nov
21
Thu
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Nov 21 @ 10:15 am – 12:00 pm
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
10:15 Toddler story time | 11:00 Preschool story time Wednesday, November 6 and Thursday, November 7: It’s playtime! Come in for stories, songs, and a craft about our favorite toys, games, and imaginings! Siblings welcome.[...]
7:00 pm Drama Performance: “Loserville” @ Melton Memorial Gymnasium | R-MA
Drama Performance: “Loserville” @ Melton Memorial Gymnasium | R-MA
Nov 21 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Drama Performance: "Loserville" @ Melton Memorial Gymnasium | R-MA
On Wednesday, November 20th, and Thursday, November 21st, Randolph-Macon Academy’s Performing Arts Department will present its 2019 fall production of Elliot Davis’ and James Bourne’s musical, Loserville. The musical, which will take place in Melton[...]
Nov
22
Fri
9:00 am Veteran Services Visit @ Able Forces Professional Services
Veteran Services Visit @ Able Forces Professional Services
Nov 22 @ 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
Veteran Services Visit @ Able Forces Professional Services
Able Forces will once again be hosting a visit by Andre Miller, Resource Specialist, Virginia Veteran and Family Support, Department of Veteran Services, Commonwealth of Virginia this Friday 22 November from 9AM to Noon. As[...]
Nov
23
Sat
10:30 am Children’s Class: Drawing A Self... @ Art in the Valley
Children’s Class: Drawing A Self... @ Art in the Valley
Nov 23 @ 10:30 am – 12:30 pm
Children's Class: Drawing A Self Portrait @ Art in the Valley
In this class students will learn how to draw facial features and the proportions used for placement of features on a face.  They will complete a self portrait using graphite. Classes are designed for the[...]
2:30 pm The Princess & the “P___” @ Samuels Public Library
The Princess & the “P___” @ Samuels Public Library
Nov 23 @ 2:30 pm – 4:00 pm
The Princess & the “P___” @ Samuels Public Library
Lyla sees no purpose to princes. They’re ugly, stupid—and obnoxious! Why can’t Hagabah see that, and why must the master insist that she keep the prince around three more days? The world would be a[...]