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A history of roads in Virginia: The secondary system

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Highways and road signs were vastly improved by the 1930s.

It was against this background that the General Assembly in 1932 approved a means by which the counties could be relieved of road construction and maintenance responsibility. The “Byrd Road Act” inspired by the former Winchester senator who two years before had completed a term as governor, authorized the establishment of the state “secondary” road system. It permitted each county, if it wished, to give its road responsibility to the Highway Commission. One economist estimated that this action would reduce rural taxes by $2,895,102 annually.

Four counties – Arlington, Henrico, Nottoway and Warwick – chose to keep the responsibility; the other counties joined the new secondary system. In 1933, Nottoway reversed its earlier decision and joined the system. Years later, Warwick gave up its county status to become a city that eventually merged with Newport News. Arlington and Henrico counties continued to operate their own local roads.

When the secondary system was established, it totaled 35,900 miles. It included 2,000 miles hard-surfaced, 8,900 miles with soil or gravel surfaces, and more than 25,000 miles, or almost 70 percent, of largely unimproved dirt roads. Some counties had no hard-surfaced roads at all.

Within a decade, the amount of hard-surfaced roads had tripled, the mileage of soil or gravel roads had doubled, and the unimproved roads had been reduced by almost half. With the arrival of the secondary system, the main roads for which the state had been responsible became known as the “primary” highway system.

In August 1939, with motor vehicle registration approaching a half million, Commissioner Henry Shirley reported that “The demand for a road that can be used throughout the year is becoming greater and greater, and such a road has become a necessity. Practically all horse-drawn equipment has vanished from the highways, and motor equipment taken its place, requiring a road that can be traveled the year-round.”A year later, Shirley reported another development that was to become a major part of road operations in Virginia and elsewhere. “All the main highways are being marked with traffic lines, and the system adopted we hope will be the means of saving many lives. Under no condition should a vehicle cross a solid line when it is next to the vehicle, or two solid lines,” he said.

Despite the precautions, however, safety problems continued to trouble highway engineers as the number of autos grew. Brig. Gen. James A. Anderson, who had taught civil engineering and been dean of the faculty at VMI, was on furlough from the academic world and was serving as coordinator of the State Defense Council at the time of Shirley’s death in July 1941. Anderson was appointed highway commissioner, a position he held until his retirement in 1957.

“Accidents on the highways are increasing daily, and every care and precaution within the power of the commission is being taken to reduce this heavy toll of life,” Anderson said shortly after his appointment. “It is imperative that something be done to reduce the speed of automobiles on the highways, and to educate the drivers to the courtesy of the road.”

Next up: Another World War Begins

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: Seeking direction at the national level

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Highway Safety Corridors are established on high-crash stretches of Virginia’s interstate.

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.

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

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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.

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Chipped windshields: repair or replace?

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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A history of roads in Virginia: New thinking about multimodalism

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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.

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Upcoming Events

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[...]
Feb
26
Wed
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Feb 26 @ 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, February 19 and Thursday, February 20: Come in for some great stories, songs, and a craft about our feathered friends, Birds!  Siblings welcome. Wednesday, February[...]
Feb
27
Thu
10:00 am Day of Giving @ Samuels Public Library
Day of Giving @ Samuels Public Library
Feb 27 @ 10:00 am – 8:00 pm
Day of Giving @ Samuels Public Library
In conjunction with “Love Your Library Month,” Samuels Public Library will hold its first “Day of Giving” on Thursday, February 27, 2020. Thanks to an anonymous donor, all donations made in-person at the Library or[...]
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Feb 27 @ 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, February 19 and Thursday, February 20: Come in for some great stories, songs, and a craft about our feathered friends, Birds!  Siblings welcome. Wednesday, February[...]
Feb
28
Fri
7:00 pm Love Revival – FREE Monthly Comm... @ Love Revival Ministry Center
Love Revival – FREE Monthly Comm... @ Love Revival Ministry Center
Feb 28 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Love Revival - FREE Monthly Community Dinner @ Love Revival Ministry Center
Free Community Dinner for everyone! Come enjoy a hot meal on the last Friday of every month at Love Revival Ministry Center.
Feb
29
Sat
10:00 am Loom Knit a Kitten @ Strokes of Creativity
Loom Knit a Kitten @ Strokes of Creativity
Feb 29 @ 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Loom Knit a Kitten @ Strokes of Creativity
Loom Knit an adorable kitten. In this beginner’s class for teens and adults, you will work on a 24 peg loom to knit a small stuffed toy. *Instruction will be right handed. No prior knitting[...]
11:00 am Kooky Chefs Cook It Up: Soups @ Samuels Public Library
Kooky Chefs Cook It Up: Soups @ Samuels Public Library
Feb 29 @ 11:00 am – 1:00 pm
Kooky Chefs Cook It Up: Soups @ Samuels Public Library
Nothing is more comforting than warm soup on a chilly day! Learn how to make some yummy soup, and do some taste-testing to choose your favorite. For ages 8 and up. Registration begins January 29.
11:00 am Trauma & Resiliency Training for... @ Samuels Public Library
Trauma & Resiliency Training for... @ Samuels Public Library
Feb 29 @ 11:00 am – 12:30 pm
Trauma & Resiliency Training for Early Childhood Providers @ Samuels Public Library
Statistics show us that one in four children will experience trauma by the age of four. This trauma could be abuse, hunger, homelessness, witnessing violence, medical trauma, or grief. We know that a child’s greatest[...]
1:00 pm Bingo Fundraiser @ Elks Lodge
Bingo Fundraiser @ Elks Lodge
Feb 29 @ 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Bingo Fundraiser @ Elks Lodge
 
2:00 pm Speed Dating with Books @ Samuels Public Library
Speed Dating with Books @ Samuels Public Library
Feb 29 @ 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Speed Dating with Books @ Samuels Public Library
Do appearances, of people or books, influence you?  How much time does it take for you to decide that you are/are not interested? What criteria determines interest? Come spend time in a “speed dating” atmosphere,[...]