VDOT getting word out on rest-area closings
The Virginia Department of Transportation has begun notifying motorists today of impending changes at the rest areas slated for closure later this month.
“These are hard decisions for us to make,” said VDOT Commissioner David S. Ekern. “It is difficult to cut back on these popular motorists’ services, but we must prioritize our limited funding to emergency response and maintaining our roads and bridges. We have worked with the trucking, tourism and commuter communities to ensure that those impacted are aware of the impending changes and to address adverse impacts wherever possible.”
Last month, the Commonwealth Transportation Board finalized plans to scale-back the number of rest areas VDOT maintains and operates from 42 to 23 as the agency grapples with a $2.6 billion revenue shortfall. Electronic message signs notifying visitors that the facilities will close on July 21 are being posted at each location beginning today and VDOT has updated its website and 511 traveler information system to reflect the closures.
In an effort to mitigate the impacts of these facility closings on trucks, VDOT plans to implement changes to its rest area truck parking restrictions on July 21. Crews will remove a number of no parking signs at the remaining 23 rest areas and welcome centers to provide more than 225 legal truck parking spaces. This will offset the total number of truck parking spaces lost at the closed facilities. VDOT will also remove signs that had restricted vehicles to two-hour parking limits.
Truck drivers will now be able to get their mandated 10-hours of rest in Virginia’s rest areas. New truck parking rules only limit parking for an entire overnight period. This means that trucks arriving in a rest area before sundown must leave the site prior to sunrise the following day. Those truck arriving during the night or early morning hours must leave the site prior to sunrise the following full day.
The 18 rest areas slated to close July 21 include:
– I-81 North Rural Retreat
– I-81 South Smyth
– I-81 North Radford
– I-81 South Troutville
– I-81 North Mount Sidney
– I-81 South Mount Sidney
– I-81 South New Market
– I-95 North Ladysmith
– I-95 South Ladysmith
– I-95 North Dale City (cars)
– I-95 South Dale City (cars)
– I-66 East Mannassas
– I-64 East Goochland
– I-64 West Goochland
– I-85 North Dinwiddie
– I-85 South Dinwiddie
– I-85 North Alberta
– I-85 South Alberta
VDOT will operate the I-66 West Manassas Welcome Center through the summer travel season, since it was the only welcome center impacted by these closures. VDOT will close the I-66 Welcome Center on Sept. 16, following the busy summer travel season.
A map of the affected rest areas is available at http://www.virginiadot.org/news/resources/Statewide/19_SRAWC_Closures.pdf
VDOT recommended in February a series of reductions to address a $2.6 billion revenue shortfall. These include reductions over the next six years of $2 billion to the construction program, $391 million to administrative and support programs, and $348 million in reductions to the maintenance and operations program. The department collected feedback during 11 public meetings in March and early April. It then proposed final recommendations to the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) after considering public input and completing additional analysis.
The CTB finalized these decisions and adopted VDOT’s new $3.7 billion budget June 18. This triggered implementation of VDOT’s service cuts, including the rest area closures.
The commonwealth will continue to pursue federal legislation changes necessary to allow future rest area commercialization, currently prohibited by law.
To learn more detail about VDOT’s service reductions, visit http://www.virginiadot.org/newsroom/default.asp#blueprint.