Even before taking office in 2002, Gov. Mark R. Warner expressed concern about financing and scheduling highway projects, as well as about cost overruns for new projects and inadequate budget projections to maintain the highway infrastructure. The construction program so dramatically enlarged just two years earlier by the previous administration and the General Assembly was being severely crimped by the downturn in the economy. Rosy revenue projections foreseen for transportation in late 2001 were realized as untenable in 2002. Project cost estimates did not adequately account for inflation and were significantly low. The available funding and the extensive improvements in the transportation system called for were recognized as incompatible.
The new governor called for a “realistic and achievable” Six-Year Program for transportation improvements and directed VDOT to produce it. Secretary of Transportation Whittington W. Clement, recently appointed by the governor, indicated a sharp reduction in the construction program was necessary, saying, “We can’t do it all, but whatever it is, we’re going to do it well.”
Gov. Warner also appointed a new commissioner of transportation, Philip A. Shucet, and within weeks he and VDOT staff prepared a Six-Year Program that reduced the previously approved program by nearly a third. At the same time, Virginia’s aging highway system required more maintenance, further reducing available funding for new construction. Virginia, which long held “pay as you go” as its transportation funding philosophy, had to use Federal Reimbursement Anticipation Notes (FRANs), or special-use bonds, to help cover some construction projects’ costs.
It appeared to be the beginning of an era of retrenchment, but at the same time, 1,157 projects across the state remained in the $7.3 billion Six-Year Program. And, simultaneously, motorists across Virginia rated highly the service they received from roads and highways, even in areas where traffic congestion was problematic.
The transportation theme of the new century, however, had been changed from spending and building to one of a realistic, credible, and systematic improvement process.
A history of roads in Virginia: Outsourcing and privatization become key orientations
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.
Chipped windshields: repair or replace?
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.
A history of roads in Virginia: Persistent pressures on the infrastructure
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.
How to identify a car with high resale value: 4 considerations
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.
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.
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.
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.
A history of roads in Virginia: New thinking about multimodalism
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.
How to parallel park in just 4 steps
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.