augusta free press news

Record construction program means more activity along Virginia highways

Columbia Gas of VirginiaDuring 2018, Columbia Gas of Virginia is investing a record level of more than $100 million in maintenance and upgrades to its natural gas facilities.

That means, during peak construction periods, more than 60 different Columbia employee and contractor work crews will be in action across the Commonwealth each day.

Since utility work often takes place along roads and highways, Columbia is asking Virginia motorists to be extra mindful of utility work zone safety.

“One of the greatest hazards our work crews face each day is work zone intrusions – when a motorist accidentally enters a construction area,” Columbia Gas Construction Manager Clyde Sweeley said.  “These situations can be extremely serious, resulting in injury or death for workers, drivers or members of the public.”

In fact, according to the Federal Highway Administration, from 1982 through 2014, nearly 25,000 people (about 750 per year) lost their lives in work zone crashes.

What drivers can do

If you encounter Columbia Gas work crews on the road, following these simple tips just might save a life:

  • Slow down – Speeding is one of the major causes of work zone crashes.
  • Expect the unexpected – Normal speed limits may be reduced; traffic lanes may change; and people may be working on or near the road.
  • Keep your distance – Keep a safe distance to the car ahead, and don’t tailgate.
  • Pay attention to signs – Observe the posted signs until you see the one that says you’ve left the work zone.
  • Obey road crew flaggers – A flagger has the same authority as a regulatory sign, so you can be cited for disobeying his or her directions.
  • Stay alert and minimize distractions – Dedicate your full attention to the roadway and avoid changing radio stations or using cell phones while driving.

“I want to thank all motorists who use caution when encountering work zones,” Sweeley added. “We understand that construction is an inconvenience, and we will strive to minimize those disruptions as much as possible as we work to make sure reliable and efficient natural gas facilities are in place to serve all Virginia customers.”

For more information about Columbia’s commitment to work zone safety, visit: