Repaving season underway in Henrico

Springtime is here, which means busy work for the Virginia Department of Transportation’s (VDOT) Richmond District as pavement improvement season begins. For many motorists and Richmond area residents, this will mean smoother driving surfaces by year’s end but also some congestion and traffic along the way.

Repaving season usually extends between April and November. This year, VDOT will spend approximately $116 million to resurface 2,000 lane miles of state-maintained routes in the region.

The state is responsible for road work on interstates and any road that carries a route number (such as West Broad Street/Route 250), while Henrico County is responsible for maintaining all other roads within its borders.

Henrico and Arlington are the only two localities in the state that maintain their own roads. Both counties receive a lump sum payment from the state each year for road maintenance and then decide how to allocate the money.

Normally, Henrico spends more than $5 million a year on paving projects but the amount varies depending upon other road maintenance needs. Maintenance funding comes from the state gas tax and is used for all maintenance activities, not just paving. Maintenance payments are based on the miles of road in the system, which is currently 3,426 in Henrico.

According to VDOT, primary routes in Richmond District will receive 570 lane miles of asphalt paving, repair and/or slurry seal totaling $64 million. These routes are numbered 1 to 599 and include major roads and highways.

Currently VDOT is adding a southbound lane and a sidewalk on Brook Road (Route 1) from Villa Park Drive to Parham Road with an expected completion date of November. Also, concrete patching will take place on seven miles of I-295 in Henrico just north of the Varina-Enon Bridge through October and involve multiple single-lane closures and weeknight double-lane closures. Interior lighting work will also be done on the Varina-Enon Bridge by Dorey Electric Company as they received $2.9 million contract for the project which will be completed by February 2013.

Commuters should expect southbound traffic to remain in one lane from Three Chopt Road until south of the Huguenot Bridge as construction has begun, while northbound traffic will remain one lane until Huguenot Road widens at River Road. In late summer into early fall, all Riverside Drive ramps on the south end of Huguenot Bridge will be closed until spring 2013.

VDOT Commissioner of Highways Greg Whirley recently approved multiple contracts this month totaling approximately $18.8 million for Richmond District construction and maintenance. A $2.4 million contract was awarded to B.P. Short & Son Paving Co. Inc. for surface treatment in various locations throughout the Richmond District between June 2012 and December 2012. Pavement resurfacing will be completed in various locations in the Richmond District as Templeton Paving LLC received $4.7 million with an expected completion time of December 2012. Slurry Pavers Inc. was also awarded a contract for $3.8 million for resurfacing various primary routes in the the Richmond District, which will be completed by December 2012.

One of the roads that has undergone a major facelift is New Market Road (Route 5) in Eastern Henrico, more than two miles of which recently were repaved recently. Charles City Road (Route 156) in Eastern Henrico also will be repaved, as well as Pouncey Tract Road (Route 271) in the Far West End. Other major roads undergoing repaving through Henrico this season are Parham Road, West End Drive, Carolina Avenue, Nuckols Road, Glenside Drive, Shrader Road and Woodman Road.

Summer months are ideal for repaving and most of the projects will be completed before the winter. “We want the road surfaces to be generally dry and there’s a better chance of that in sumer,” said Steve Yob, Henrico’s director of Public Works. “Also, asphalt is applied hot so if the temperature is cold it might cool off to the point where its not usable. It’s more desirable to do them in the warm months of the year than the winter.

VDOT contracts are awarded to private companies in the late fall and winter for the following year. The paving contractor plans out the schedule of when each route will be repaved, and VDOT holds the contractor accountable to complete each contract by the expected end date. However, exact dates are difficult to calculate because of the weather, which can cause repaving projects to be rescheduled or shifted to different areas.

Henrico officials determine which roads need to be repaved by using a roadway analyzer, Yob said, which is a vehicle that drives on the roads and assesses the conditions of the pavements, while making observations on cracks and distressed areas. Experienced maintenance personnel also help determine which roads are in the most need, he said.

VDOT uses roadway analyzers as well but also tests the pavement condition on all interstates and primary roads to see where the condition falls on a scale of 1 to 100 on a critical condition index. If the score falls below 60 it is in the “poor” category and below 50 is “very poor.” The score helps determine which sections of the road are in greatest need and are effected by vehicle load, weather and the environment, said Sundra Hominik, VDOT’s public affairs specialist.
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