HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) - The Virginia Department of Transportation explained to the public Friday, how it plans to handle upcoming projects that impact major water crossings.
VDOT held an 11 a.m. news conference to discuss lessons learned from the previous weekend's significant traffic delays.
Thousands of drivers were stuck sitting in traffic for several hours this past weekend when VDOT closed the HRBT and the JRB in the same direction.
Governor Bob McDonnell condemned the impact of VDOT's actions, calling the resulting traffic nightmare in Hampton Roads "unacceptable."
VDOT Chief Deputy Commission Charlie Kilpatrick said going forward, VDOT will not schedule the closing of more than one major Hampton Roads crossing at the same time. He said that the paving work at the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel will not resume until after the Columbus Day. He did not announce a specific date, but did say it would be completed during overnight, off-peak hours over the course of several days.
Kilpatrick said the James River Bridge project will resume the weekend of Sept. 28. The southbound lanes will be closed all weekend to replace the steel bridge bridge gap.
Kilpatrick said five major lessons were learned:
- As a matter of agency policy, VDOT will not close two major harbor crossings at the same time for scheduled work.
- VDOT will conduct a traffic analysis of major facility closures to estimate the anticipated back-ups and the delay time.
- VDOT will better coordinate with localities to make sure other road work doesn't't get in the way of a major detour, such as the route to the MMMBT.
- VDOT will improve coordination between project management and operations.
- The Hampton Roads District will not schedule an extended harbor crossing closing for construction and maintenance work without consulting with the Chief Deputy Commissioner first.
Kilpatrick said VDOT is still in the process of evaluating what happened.
VDOT District Administrator Dennis Heuer was the man who made the decision to close down the bridges, but did not appear at Friday's news conference.
"Dennis is not here today," Kilpatrick said. "He remains in his current role. I asked him not to be here because I don't want the focus to be on Dennis. Dennis and his dedication here have very good numbers in a very complex environment."
With this, Kilpatrick insinuated Heuer brings projects in on time on budget.
"This district strives very hard not to get a passing grade, but does an exceptional job of managing resources as well as time on the project," Kilpatrick said.
Kilpatrick said Heuer planned to do too much in too little time.
"The public expects us to save their dollars, and get things done, and stay out of their way," Kilpatrick said. "Delivering a project on time on budget is never an excuse for making a bad decision."
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