Connect with us

Automotive

A history of roads in Virginia: New ways of doing transportation business

Published

on

The “Dashboard” is an online system for VDOT managers to see in an instant which projects are on time and on budget. Pictured is “Dashboard II”, an expanded version of the original system.

As the new century continued to unfold, national trends in the public sphere were readily apparent in Virginia. Citizens were seeking more involvement in transportation issues as well as a role in planning future initiatives. They also were demanding more accountability from government and more transparency with the public’s business. Further, they thought government should do more with fewer resources.

Consequently, VDOT took some bold steps. One was an accountability system developed by employees in 2003 called the “Dashboard.” The Web-based tool became an early warning system for construction project managers, showing them in an instant which projects were on track and which were falling behind or going over budget. Citizens were invited to view the Dashboard online and to communicate with managers about projects important to them. In 2005, “Dashboard II” was launched with additional information on highway operations, engineering, safety, finance and the environment.

Employees also designed a new system to estimate costs of future transportation projects. One of the first in the nation, the system addressed the department’s tendency to underestimate project costs by an average of 187 percent—a margin reduced to 30 percent the first year of the system’s use. In addition, the agency began running a cash flow analysis to ensure that money would be on hand for approved projects.

Project managers, with authority and accountability, were assigned to all projects, not just the larger ones. VDOT also increased its contingent of engineers with professional licensure from 182 to 270 between 2003 and 2005. Further, in a major cost-savings initiative, the number of employees was reduced by 1,400 between 2002 and 2004; as vacant positions went unfilled, employees picked up added duties and work was outsourced.

Share the News:

Automotive

A history of roads in Virginia: Outsourcing and privatization become key orientations

Published

on

Virginia Maintenance Services was awarded contracts for maintenance and paving of many of Virginia’s interstate lane miles.

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.

Share the News:
Continue Reading

Automotive

Chipped windshields: repair or replace?

Published

on

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.

Share the News:
Continue Reading

Automotive

A history of roads in Virginia: Persistent pressures on the infrastructure

Published

on

Smart traffic centers play a major role in managing congestion and incidents on highways.

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.

Share the News:
Continue Reading

Automotive

How to identify a car with high resale value: 4 considerations

Published

on

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.

1. Model
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.

2. Color
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.

3. Features
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.

Share the News:
Continue Reading

Automotive

A history of roads in Virginia: New thinking about multimodalism

Published

on

VDOT is committed to considering bicycling and walking as “fundamental travel modes” in its new policy.

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.

Share the News:
Continue Reading

Automotive

How to parallel park in just 4 steps

Published

on

For many drivers, little is more intimidating than parallel parking. However, pulling off this maneuver becomes much easier once you understand the steps involved. Here’s what you need to do.

1. Signal your intention to pull over and then stop your car beside the vehicle in front of the empty space. You want to position your car two to three feet away from the other vehicle and then align your rear bumper with its rear bumper (if your car is about the same length as the other one, you can also line up the mirrors).

2. Crank your wheel all the way and slowly turn into the empty spot while looking where you’re going through the back windshield.

3. When your car is positioned at about a 45-degree angle in relation to the curb, stop and straighten the wheel. Then back up straight until you can see the license plate of the car in front of you in the middle of your passenger-side window.

4. Turn your car so that it’s parallel to the curb, then reposition it so that it’s midway between the car in front and behind.

If you’re still nervous about parallel parking, practice this skill on an uncrowded street. And if you have a friend with you, get them to stand on the sidewalk and help direct you.

Share the News:
Continue Reading

King Cartoons

Front Royal
38°
Sunny
06:5517:56 EST
Feels like: 34°F
Wind: 5mph NNW
Humidity: 27%
Pressure: 30.48"Hg
UV index: 1
FriSatSun
min 22°F
53/25°F
57/34°F

Upcoming Events

Feb
22
Sat
10:00 am Beginner Crochet: Dishcloths @ Strokes of Creativity
Beginner Crochet: Dishcloths @ Strokes of Creativity
Feb 22 @ 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Beginner Crochet: Dishcloths @ Strokes of Creativity
Beginner Crochet: Dishcloths In this beginner level class, you will learn some basic crochet stitches and pattern reading to make pretty dishcloths for your home. Instruction will be for right-handed crochet. Please pre-register!
11:00 am Art Stars @ Samuels Public Library
Art Stars @ Samuels Public Library
Feb 22 @ 11:00 am – 12:00 pm
Art Stars @ Samuels Public Library
Art Stars is a special needs art discovery program. This program is for ages 8 and up. Registration begins January 22. Participants should have a caregiver or attendant present in the program.
12:30 pm Crochet Workshop @ Strokes of Creativity
Crochet Workshop @ Strokes of Creativity
Feb 22 @ 12:30 pm – 2:30 pm
Crochet Workshop @ Strokes of Creativity
Crochet Workshop Do you have a crochet project you need a little help with? Already bought the supplies, but need help reading the pattern? All skill levels are invited to this Bring Your Own Project[...]
1:00 pm Discover love, adopt at Petco @ Petco
Discover love, adopt at Petco @ Petco
Feb 22 @ 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Discover love, adopt at Petco @ Petco
Stop by Petco located at 2580 S Pleasant Valley Rd. on Saturday, February 22, between 1 and 4 PM. Meet the amazing Petco adoption team from the SPCA of Winchester, Frederick, and Clarke, learn more about[...]
1:00 pm Moving Mindfully: Finding and ke... @ Ruby Yoga
Moving Mindfully: Finding and ke... @ Ruby Yoga
Feb 22 @ 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Moving Mindfully: Finding and keeping your footing @ Ruby Yoga
Join Ruby Yoga and Deborah Romero of Optimal Posture LLC for a series of workshops on moving more mindfully through life using the principles of yoga and the Alexander Technique. Slated for Saturday, Jan. 25,[...]
2:00 pm Magic Show @ Samuels Public Library
Magic Show @ Samuels Public Library
Feb 22 @ 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm
Magic Show @ Samuels Public Library
Local magician Kevin Owens will entertain the whole family with his amazing magic show, which always includes audience participation and lots of laughter!
2:00 pm Paint a Wine Bottle @ Strokes of Creativity
Paint a Wine Bottle @ Strokes of Creativity
Feb 22 @ 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Paint a Wine Bottle @ Strokes of Creativity
Come paint a wine bottle with Dottie Knob. Dottie will guide you step by step as you create a wonderful up-cycled piece for your home, office, or to give as a gift! This is an[...]
Feb
23
Sun
1:00 pm Free Women’s Self Defense Class @ Linden Volunteer Fire Department
Free Women’s Self Defense Class @ Linden Volunteer Fire Department
Feb 23 @ 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Free Women's Self Defense Class @ Linden Volunteer Fire Department
Instructed by Sgt Winner of the Front Royal Police Department, in collaboration with the Warren Co Victim Witness Program, hosted by Linden Volunteer Fire Department. Space limited to 20 participants. Reserve your spot by visiting[...]
5:00 pm Sunday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Fire Department
Sunday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Fire Department
Feb 23 @ 5:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Sunday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Fire Department
Divinum Auxilium Academy’s Bingo Night! Games, Fun, and Prizes! 6 cards per round of Bingo/15 rounds. Purchase tickets at www.divineassistanceacademy.org or contact Kristin at DAAfundraising@gmail.com Food & drinks, including beer & wine, available for purchase beginning[...]
Feb
25
Tue
4:30 pm Novel Ideas @ Samuels Public Library
Novel Ideas @ Samuels Public Library
Feb 25 @ 4:30 pm – 5:30 pm
Novel Ideas @ Samuels Public Library
Children will explore popular books and book series through S.T.E.M. activities, games, food, and more! Tuesday, February 25 – Children will explore popular books and book series through S.T.E.M. activities, games, food, and more! After[...]