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A history of roads in Virginia: The 1990s – new technologies and funding infusions



I-81 became a major north-south artery for long-haul truckers.

The 1990s brought no slowdown in the increasing needs of Virginians for mobility. Surging volumes of traffic — combined with aging highways, accelerating technological progress, and landmark legislation — brought a dynamic set of challenges to transportation in the century’s last decade. Public demands for more transportation capacity were met with dramatic increases in transportation funding and burgeoning highway construction programs. In that context, VDOT sought and implemented continuous innovation in its management and engineering programs.

From 1980 to 1990, vehicle registrations jumped from 4 million to 5 million. Miles traveled daily in Virginia leaped from 105 million to 165 million. Despite the demand for more roads and bridges, voters indicated in 1990 that they were unwilling to give up completely the “pay-as-you-go” philosophy of funding for transportation. In a referendum, they turned down a proposal to sell pledge bonds to finance highway improvements.

At the same time, the commonwealth was moving toward a more modern transportation infrastructure. In 1990 the General Assembly, at Gov. Douglas Wilder’s request, created separate secretariats for transportation and public safety, functional areas that had been combined in the past. The legislation also provided that the secretary of transportation would serve as chairman of the CTB, and the commissioner of the Department of Transportation would become vice-chairman.

Within a few months, however, the department experienced the effects of a weakening economy. The resulting loss of revenue caused VDOT to scale back maintenance, mowing, and snow plowing; and the value of construction contracts awarded for highway improvements fell 28 percent from 1990 to 1991.

By 1992 more than 100 highway projects had been delayed. In addition, maintaining and rebuilding roads — especially aging interstate highways — was becoming a special challenge. Help was on the way, however, in a new federal aid package.

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

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How to choose the right car for your family



If you’re in the market for a new vehicle, make sure to carefully consider your family’s needs and lifestyle. Here’s a guide to help you find the right model.

Think about space
Make sure there are enough seats for the whole family and that everyone has a comfortable amount of legroom. You also want to make sure you can easily access the back seat if your children are young. Consider whether you need extra room to accommodate car seats, a stroller, sports equipment, or a pet carrier. Look for a vehicle with fold-away seats or a spacious trunk to ensure you have enough storage space.

Prioritize safety

In addition to airbags, modern cars offer a variety of safety features to protect your family. Since children are often a source of distraction, look for driver-assistance systems that are designed to help prevent collisions.

Opt for simplicity
Choose a vehicle with features that will make your life easier. When you’re laden with groceries or have a kid in your arms, you’ll likely appreciate a trunk that can be opened with your foot or the push of a button. Automatic sliding doors offer a similar convenience, and a smart key or keyless entry system will allow you to keep your hands free.

Look for comfort
Keep in mind that a spacious vehicle doesn’t guarantee optimal comfort. Is the rear ventilation system independent of the one upfront? Are the back seats heated? Does everyone have access to a cup holder? Reflect on which features will be most useful to your family and don’t settle for a car without them.

Consider entertainment
A DVD player and onboard Wi-Fi can be invaluable, especially on a long trip. It might even help prevent siblings from bickering. As a driver, consider whether you could use voice-controlled Bluetooth or a few USB ports. Additionally, make sure the car is compatible with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.

When shopping for a new family car, it’s important that you establish your needs, compare models that meet your requirements and factor personal preferences into your decision.

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3 key areas to clean inside your car



It’s important to keep your car’s interior clean. As it’s a closed environment, a buildup of dust and dirt will affect the cabin’s air quality. Here are some key areas to target when tidying up inside your car.

1. The glove compartment
Take everything out of the glove compartment and then clean it with a vacuum cleaner. Alternatively, you can wipe it down with a cloth. If the interior is lined with fabric, use a toothbrush to clean it and dislodge any debris.

2. The seats

To clean the seats in your car, simply wipe them down using a cloth and the appropriate cleaning product. Seams and crevices can be tackled with a vacuum or toothbrush. If your seats are removable, you can do a more comprehensive cleaning by vacuuming underneath them and picking up all the coins, receipts, wrappers, sand, and whatever else you find.

3. The air vents
Over time, dust and debris will build upon the slats of your air vents, affecting the air quality in your car cabin. To clean them, use a toothbrush, paintbrush, or cotton swab. An air duster will also work if the dust isn’t too caked on. When cleaning, make sure to keep the car doors open so dust can disperse outside.

While you can clean your car yourself, it’s still worth taking it into an auto detailer once a year or so. This way you’ll ensure every nook and cranny is free of dirt and debris.

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7 things to inspect on your car this summer



If you’re getting ready for a summer road trip or plan to take your car out for its first spin of the season, here are seven things you should inspect before you get behind the wheel.

1. Tires. Make sure your tires are properly inflated and have sufficient tread. Do the same for the spare and make certain you have a jack and lug wrench in the trunk.

2. Lights. Ask someone to stand outside your car as you turn on your headlights, brake lights, and reverse lights to ensure that they’re working.

3. Windshield wipers. Make sure your wipers are in good condition and can effectively clear your windows. You should also inspect the sprayer and top off the windshield washer fluid.

4. Fluids. Inspect the oil as well as the brake, power steering, and transmission fluids. If any of these run out, your car’s components may get damaged.

5. Battery. Inspect your battery for signs of corrosion, cracks, and leaks. Test it with a battery tester, voltmeter, or multimeter. Alternatively, you can get it inspected and tested by a mechanic. Batteries should be tested twice a year and replaced approximately every five years.

6. Undercarriage. Look under your car for leaks. A fluid leak can cause your steering or braking system to fail.

7. Air conditioner. Make sure your air conditioner is working well. Also, check the heating for those chilly mornings when you need to defrost the windows.

If you notice any issues during your inspection, make an appointment at your local garage.

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5 reasons to apply a paint protection film to your car



Do you hate seeing nicks and scratches on your car? If so, a paint protection film can help make dings a thing of the past. Here are five reasons to add this coating to your car.

1. To protect the paint
Paint protection film helps keep painted surfaces on your car shiny and blemish-free by protecting them from scratches, dents, fading, and rust. This coating is made of thermoplastic urethane and is completely transparent.

2. To increase the resale value

While scratches and dings won’t affect your vehicle’s performance, they can significantly reduce the price you’ll get for your car if you decide to sell it. Note that the film can easily and safely be removed by a professional at any time.

3. To protect certain components
Paint protection film can be applied to headlights and mirrors to shield them from damage caused by upturned gravel and road debris. Since the coating is transparent, it doesn’t affect its operation or visibility.

4. To save you money on repairs
Touch-ups for scuffs and scratches can be costly. If you have a protective coating on your car, it could spare you from needing to make small repairs. It can also prevent you from having to fix broken headlights and mirrors.

5. To make cleaning easier
Paint protection film repels dust and debris, thereby reducing the need for frequent car cleaning. Moreover, you can simply wipe the coating with a soft cloth instead of water when you want to quickly spiff up your vehicle.

To apply paint protection film to your car, contact your local garage or auto detailer.

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What vehicle should you rent for your summer road trip?



If you’re planning a road trip and need a set of wheels, renting is probably your best option. Here are four types of vehicles to consider booking for your next trip.

1. Convertible
In fair weather, cruising in a convertible can be fun, especially if you rarely get the chance. If you’re going on a brief trip and don’t plan on venturing too far off the beaten track, then taking a convertible will likely add to your excitement. Just be sure to check the weather in advance.

2. Sedan

A sedan is a practical vehicle to choose for a two-person road trip. If you opt for a small-sized one, it won’t burn much fuel and you’ll save money on gas. Moreover, sedans tend to be reliable and easy to repair, meaning there’s little chance that you’ll run into trouble during your trip.

3. Minivan or SUV
A minivan or SUV is the best vehicle to choose for a family road trip. Be sure to get a model with a multimedia system so that you can easily entertain your kids during the drive. Minivans and SUVs are also great choices for adventurous couples who want to rough it by sleeping in the back of their car on an inflatable mattress.

4. RV
Although it’s the priciest vehicle to rent and costs the most to fill up, an RV also doubles as a hotel room, complete with a kitchen, shower, toilet, and beds. It’s a great option if you’re camping as a family and intending to visit several places since you won’t need to pack up your things or pitch a tent multiple times.

Whatever vehicle you choose for your road trip, be sure to stay safe behind the wheel and take along an emergency supply kit.

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Does the music you listen to affect the way you drive?



According to research conducted by the South China University of Technology, the type of music a motorist listens to influences the way they drive. Here’s what the study uncovered.

Study participants experienced a higher heart rate when they were exposed to raucous music versus when they were exposed to gentler music or no music at all. As a result, they drove faster and less carefully. The key factor was shown to be song tempo, which was measured in beats per minute.

When participants listened to music with a tempo of above 120 beats per minute, they tended to drive faster than they did when listening to music with a slower tempo. The difference in driving speed amounted to about 10 miles per hour. Lane changes also occurred twice as often when drivers listened to this kind of music.

The song that caused participants to drive the fastest and most erratically was “American Idiot” by Green Day, which has a tempo of 189 beats per minute. The song that was most conducive to safe driving was “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin, which has a tempo of 63 beats per minute.

To thwart the impulse to speed, the best songs to listen to in the car are ones with a tempo that’s about the same as your resting heart rate, or between 60 and 80 beats per minute. There’s no shortage of tunes that fit the bill, from “I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz to “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” by Aerosmith.

If you tend to speed, there are certain types of music you should avoid when you’re on the road including heavy metal, drum, and bass, techno and dubstep. The tempo of most songs in these music genres is more than 120 beats per minute.

The next time you create a driving playlist, be sure to choose tunes that help you maintain your speed and keep you calm and collected on the road.

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