Look for easier traveling on a couple of area roadways.
The Virginia Department of Transportation recently implemented a new signal-timing schedule at 78 intersections along U.S. 1, Va. 123 and Prince William Parkway corridors in response to complaints from motorist traveling these highly congested roadways, said VDOT spokesman Ryan Hall.
“VDOT re-optimized or re-timed the current four weekday timing models that cover morning rush, midday, evening rush and off-peak hours,” said Ling Li, manager of VDOT’s Northern Virginia Smart Traffic Center.
“For the first time,” Li said, “we also implemented four separate weekend timing models because traffic patterns differ on the weekend.”
“The eight timing plans covering weekdays and weekends ensure maximum traffic flow efficiency in areas where capacity problems already exist,” Li said.
VDOT used computer models to figure out the best way to retime the lights.
“The data was based on the latest traffic counts that were complied through several sources including: new portable video monitoring system, in ground loop detectors, on site field counts, motorists comments and historical data,” Hall said.
VDOT employees get award
Three VDOT employees recently won a Governor’s Award and won it without getting blown to bits.
The deal was that about half of the section of Fairfax County Parkway that runs through Fort Belvoir, runs through the U.S. Army’s Engineering Proving Grounds.
The army testing land mine detecting equipment at the proving grounds between the 1940s and early 1980s and all of the land hadn’t been cleared of mines, said VDOT geologist Carlin L. Hall, part of the team that figured out a way around the problem.
VDOT needed to do test boring before construction on the remaining section of the parkway could begin and needed to find out where the mines were.
The practice mines were not fully charged and most were defused, Hall said.
“The army referred to them as ‘toe poppers,’ ” said Hall, who worked with Sharon Morales and Thomas R. “Tom” Scallorn,safety and health engineers in VDOT’s Central Office in Richmond to solve the problem.
Their solution was to hire a professional ordinance disposal team to clear the construction path.
“They were literally walking in front of us with mine sweepers,” Hall said.
The plan required that every footstep of every driller be first cleared by a minesweeper.
Also, the probable fall zone of each tree felled in the heavily wooded area had to be cleared, said a VDOT press release.
By closely following this plan, the 51 borings inside the Engineering Proving Grounds were completed three days ahead of schedule, and the entire drilling program was performed without a single injury to any of the 13 VDOT field personnel involved in the geotechnical investigation.
Most of the mines were buried singly at a depth of about 24 inches, Hall said.
“The first couple of days you’re a little tentative about where you step,” Hall said.
Alone, the “toe poppers” with a charge about equal to a .38-caliber round of ammunition, represented little danger to the VDOT crews, Hall said.
But some of the mines were buried in pits.
That’s the way the Army disposed of mines over the years, Hall said.
“Their methods of disposal was to dig a big hole in the ground and bury them with no record of that at all,” he said.
Most of the mines had been defused but about 20 percent were armed, Hall said.
“One of the pits contained a couple of hundred,” Hall said. “They had one pit that was well over 1,000 mines.”
Hall said the job was different than anything he’s done before at VDOT.
Please send questions or comments on transportation to: Lane Ranger, c/o Potomac News, P.O. Box 2470, Woodbridge, VA 22195; fax: (703) 878-8099; e-mail:
[email protected]; or by phone: (703) 878-8063.