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A history of roads in Virginia: The interstate system



Interstate construction in 1964 progresses along the I-81 corridor.

In 1923, a Delaware business executive named T. Coleman DuPont had built a three mile stretch of divided highway with his personal funds and had given it to the state of Delaware. Road historians generally regard that segment of road as representing the origin of the concept of the superhighway. But Depression, war and catching up on other basic needs had slowed the spread of the concept.

Before his death in 1941, Henry Shirley had seen the need for such a facility in the rapidly urbanizing Northern Virginia suburbs of the District of Columbia. Active planning got under way in the mid-1940s, and the road was built in the late ‘40s and early ’50s. It was Virginia’s first superhighway, and the commission named it for Shirley.

Development of a nationwide system of such highways was first seriously considered in 1938, when Congress asked the federal highway agency, by then called the Bureau of Public Roads, to study the feasibility of a toll-financed system of three east-west and three north-south superhighways. The study report encouraged the concept of a superhighway system, but said that it would be far from self-supporting if built on a toll-road basis. It proposed, instead, a network of toll-free roads for which the federal government would pay more than the normal 50 percent federal-aid rate.

The idea was studied further, and in the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1944, Congress called for the designation of a national system of interstate highways that was “so located as to connect by routes, as direct as practicable, the principal metropolitan areas, cities, and industrial centers, to serve the national defense, and to connect at suitable border points with routes of continental importance.”

It was not until the passage of the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956 that sufficient funding was provided for development of the system to begin in earnest. This act created the National System of Interstate and Defense Highways. Eventually, the system was to total 42,700 miles. It would represent little more than 1 percent of the nation’s total road and street mileage, but it would carry 23 percent of the traffic. It was to be financed with 90 percent federal and 10 percent state funds.

Virginia’s share was more than 1,070 miles (eventually 1,118 miles), and the Highway Commission assessed what development of the interstate system would mean to Virginia:

“Construction of this modern road network… involves many problems and radical changes in thought. Under the new program, interstate highways will be insulated from marginal traffic generated by motels, service stations, other types of businesses, and dwellings. Traffic entering and leaving these highways will do so at designated points. Cross movements of traffic, with which we are so familiar, will be eliminated.”

“The benefits of controlled-access construction are numerous. A modern controlled access road transforms, in many ways, the area through which it passes. Land values increase. This type of road promotes safety, saves travel time, reduces the strain on drivers, and aids the economic development of the area. Controlled-access standards also protect the state’s investment in its highways,” the commission observed, even before the first mile of the interstate system had been built.

The commission members recognized, as well, the size of the job before them. “We are now embarked on the most accelerated road program in the state’s history. Unprecedented sums of money will be spent… to provide Virginia with modern adequate highways. Present traffic patterns will be changed, new areas will be opened for business, and residential and recreational development. The future will present a challenge greater than any we have faced in our highway development. What we accomplish will depend largely on public understanding, acceptance, and support.” An extensive series of public hearings was held around the state to discuss plans for interstate system projects with citizens and local governing officials.

The first interstate system hearing in Virginia was held by the Department of Highways on Feb. 20, 1957. It concerned a 10-mile segment of Interstate 95 south of Petersburg. Within the next four months, 10 more hearings were conducted on interstate projects, and construction began on the state’s first project on the new system — the six-mile Interstate 95 bypass of Emporia. Early emphasis was on the 1-95 facility because it was to parallel U.S. Route 1, which by the mid-1950s had become the most heavily traveled through road in Virginia and one of the nation’s busiest highways.

The Emporia bypass also was the first interstate project to be completed in the commonwealth. It was opened to traffic Sept. 8, 1959. The first major interstate route to be completed fully was Interstate 495, the Virginia portion of a beltway circling the District of Columbia, with its final section being opened on April 2, 1964.

By the early 1970s, the interstate system was about 75 percent finished, and it was fulfilling to a large degree the expectations expressed by the commission at the outset of the program. Accident rates on the new superhighways were only about onehalf the rates on the older conventional roads; travel time was reduced an hour or more on cross-state auto trips; the new roads stimulated extensive commercial, industrial, and residential growth; and this, in turn, provided broader tax bases for local governments.

A new generation of Virginians, growing up with the interstate system, could hardly remember what travel was like without it.

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

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Professional detailing: a car maintenance must



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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A history of roads in Virginia: Administrative belt-tightening



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

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Fall car care: protecting your paint from falling leaves



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



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

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How to avoid hydroplaning



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



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


Front Royal
06:5516:58 EST
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Upcoming Events

12:30 pm Kaine Connects in Front Royal @ Samuels Public Library, Lou Benson & Naomi Salus Conference Room
Kaine Connects in Front Royal @ Samuels Public Library, Lou Benson & Naomi Salus Conference Room
Nov 15 @ 12:30 pm – 2:00 pm
Kaine Connects in Front Royal @ Samuels Public Library, Lou Benson & Naomi Salus Conference Room
Dear Friends, On November 15, my staff will host Kaine Connects office hours in Front Royal from 12:30 PM to 2:00 PM. Although I can’t be there in person, this is a terrific opportunity to[...]
10:00 am Tech Bytes – Nontraditional Skil... @ LFCC
Tech Bytes – Nontraditional Skil... @ LFCC
Nov 16 @ 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Tech Bytes - Nontraditional Skills needed in Cyber-security @ LFCC
One of the major trends in cyber attacks is cyber threat actors (CTAs) are successful in penetrating systems using humanistic approaches such as hacking the humans.  In order words, they get around advanced cyber defenses[...]
11:00 am Kooky Chefs Cook It Up: Thanksgi... @ Samuels Public Library
Kooky Chefs Cook It Up: Thanksgi... @ Samuels Public Library
Nov 16 @ 11:00 am – 1:00 pm
Kooky Chefs Cook It Up: Thanksgiving Feast @ Samuels Public Library
Kids will get to feast on several classic Thanksgiving Day foods to get them ready for the holidays! They will also get to make a dish themselves. For ages 8 and up  Registration begins October[...]
5:30 pm Tails and Ales Cash Party @ Front Royal Moose Lodge
Tails and Ales Cash Party @ Front Royal Moose Lodge
Nov 16 @ 5:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Tails and Ales Cash Party @ Front Royal Moose Lodge
The 8th annual cash party fundraiser for the Humane Society of Warren County will be held at the Front Royal Moose Lodge on Saturday, November 16, 2019. Doors open at 5:30pm, and dinner will be[...]
5:00 pm FAFSA Party @ LFCC Middletown Campus
FAFSA Party @ LFCC Middletown Campus
Nov 18 @ 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm
FAFSA Party @ LFCC Middletown Campus
Join other college-bound students and their parents at LFCC for a FAFSA Party on the Middletown Campus on the following dates: Monday, Nov. 4 Thursday, Nov. 14 Monday, Nov. 18. Time: 5-7 p.m. Learn about[...]
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[...]
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[...]