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Expanded traffic patrol to debut next month

The Virginia Department of Transportation will expand its Safety Service Patrol program to provide traffic control and help clear incidents in the Richmond metro area beginning next month. The program is widely used in northern Virginia, Fredericksburg and Hampton Roads; here it will include parts of Interstates 95, 64 and 295.

“The primary purpose for the Safety Service Patrol is to keep interstate traffic moving,” Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell said. “These patrollers are trained and equipped to not only assist emergency responders with traffic control, but also motorists in distress. This is a highly cost-effective way to improve safety and reduce congestion.”

Beginning March 5, patrols will monitor the following routes from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday:

• I-95 between Maury Street in Richmond and Route 606/Thornburg  in Spotsylvania County – this connects with the existing I-95 Safety Service Patrol in Fredericksburg and northern Virginia;

• I-64 in western Henrico between I-95 and Route 623/Rockville in Goochland County; and

• I-295 in Henrico between the I-95 interchange and the I-64 interchange east of Richmond.
 
The routes were chosen based on traffic volume, number of accidents and input from the Virginia State Police. Operation times and days may be modified to accommodate heavy travel seasons, such as summer and major holidays.
 
Safety service patrollers continuously monitor their routes in VDOT trucks, detecting incidents and responding to requests for assistance from the Virginia State Police and local emergency responders. Patrols also remove road hazards, such as debris.
 
When not engaged in emergency response, patrollers help stranded motorists by jump starting vehicles, changing flat tires and providing limited first aid until emergency services arrive.
 
The total cost of the Richmond Safety Service Patrol is $2 million per year, according to state officials. A 2007 study by VDOT’s research division, the Virginia Center for Transportation Innovation and Research (VCTIR), found the savings generated by the Hampton Roads Safety Service Patrol were nearly 5 times the cost of the service.
 
“The savings in terms of traffic delays and fuel consumption far outweigh the cost to run the program," said VDOT Commissioner Greg Whirley.
 
The Richmond Safety Service Patrol is an extension of VDOT’s Richmond Traffic Operations Center (TOC) in Chester, which monitors travel conditions 24 hours a day on area roads. The TOC shares real-time travel information with motorists via 511 and http://www.511Virginia.org. 
 
For details about VDOT’s Safety Service Patrol, visit http://www.virginiadot.org/travel/safetypatrol.asp. 


Community

MADD walk raises more than $26,000

The Central Virginia chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) hosted its annual Walk Like MADD fundraiser April 12 at Dorey Park in Varina. More than 20 teams of walkers raised money from individual donors by participating in the walk, and in total the event generated more than $26,000 in donations for the organization. > Read more.

Varina Ruritans honor students

The Varina Ruritan Club hosted the winners of its 2014 Environmental Essay contest at its monthly meeting March 11 in Varina.

The contest, in its eighth year, was for the first time open to students in grades 3-5 at Varina Elementary School. (It previously was open to Sandston Elementary School students.)

The meeting included the winners, parents of the winners, Varina Elementary principal Mark Tyler and several teachers who were in charge of the contest at the school. > Read more.

Baseball game to benefit Glen Allen Buddy Ball


For the fifth consecutive year, St. Christopher’s and Benedictine will play a varsity baseball game at Glen Allen's RF&P Park as part of a fundraising effort for the River City Buddy Ball program.

The game will take place Saturday, April 12, at 7 p.m., and the teams hope to raise $3,000 through donations, raffles and other efforts. Admission to the game is free, but fans who attend are asked to donate funds for the Glen Allen Youth Athletic Association's Buddy Ball program, which enables disabled children and teens to play baseball. > Read more.

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Entertainment

Weekend Top 10


Do the Bunny Hop over to Meadow Farm on Saturday for an introduction to all the farm animals there! An introduction to “Global Sounds” – featuring Japanese, Indonesian, West African, Indian, and Brazilian music and dance performances – can be found at the University of Richmond. The University of Richmond will also host the annual Spider spring game, as well as the inaugural Spiders Easter Egg Hunt. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

Restaurant watch

Find out how your favorite dining establishments fared during their most recent inspections by the Virginia Department of Health. > Read more.

A fun, fuzzy ride

‘Muppets Most Wanted’ worthy of its franchise

Do Muppets sleep? It’s hard to say.

They don’t really eat (or breathe, as far as anyone can tell). And only occasionally do they have visible, functioning legs.

As far as anyone knows, sleeping might be off the table. And that makes it very hard to accuse the Muppets of sleepwalking through their latest feature, Muppets Most Wanted – even if that’s exactly what’s going on.

Jim Henson’s beloved creations were back in a big way after 2011’s The Muppets, with fame and fortune and even an Oscar, a first for the group (“Rainbow Connection” was nominated, yet somehow failed to collect at the ’79 ceremony). > Read more.

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