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.
The threat of bad weather didn’t keep visitors away from Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden July 10 for the facility’s weekly Flowers After 5 event (which pairs music and food with a chance to stroll the garden) and its monthly Fidos After 5 (which allows dog owners to bring their pets with them to enjoy the evening). > Read more.
Thanks in part to a $10,000 gift from the Western Henrico Rotary Club, another bright pink Jeep modified to travel extremely rough terrain has been delivered to Midwives For Haiti so that more pregnant women in the quake-ravaged country will have access to prenatal care and a greater chance of surviving childbirth.
The funds were raised at the annual casino night held in February, club president Adam Cherry said. The Rotary Club also helped purchase the Virginia-based charity’s first pink jeep three years ago. > Read more.
Canoeing and kayaking enthusiasts soon will have a new access point to the Chickahominy River. VDOT, the James River Association and Henrico County Parks and Recreation are teaming up to establish a new site in Eastern Henrico.
The James River Association negotiated the deal with VDOT to procure official access to the area located just east of I-295 on North Airport Road in Sandston. The site includes a park-and-ride commuter lot bordering the Chickahominy River and has been an unofficial launch site used by paddlers for years. > Read more.
An eclectic array of events are taking place this weekend throughout the county. In the West End, we have the Richmond Wedding Expo, the Under the Stars Family Film Series and Henrico Theatre Company’s production of “Pump Boys and Dinettes.” In the eastern part of the county, we have a blood drive at the Eastern Henrico Recreation Center, Gallmeyer Farm’s annual Sweet Corn Festival and an origami workshop at Fairfield Library. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.
Charlottesville's Bella’s Restaurant recently opened a location in Short Pump Village, at 11408 West Broad Street. The restaurant is owned by Valeria Biesnti, a native of Rome who arrived in the U.S. at age 21 and later became a U.S. citizen. With her restaurants, Bisenti has sought to create an ambiance that welcomes diners in a casual setting, like her favorites from her hometown. > Read more.
A Henrico native will appear on the third episode of the Travel Channel's new grilling competition series “American Grilled.”
The episode, filmed in Charlottesville, will premier July 16 at 9 p.m. and feature Glen Allen-native Rex Holmes, a patent lawyer who operates http://SavoryReviews.com a blo,g centered around tasty recipes and BBQ.
The show features hardcore grilling enthusiasts from across the country going head-to-head for a chance to compete for a $10,000 cash prize and bragging rights when they are crowned the ultimate “grill master.” > Read more.
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CalendarLewis Ginter Botanical Garden, 1800 Lakeside Ave., will present Flowers After 5 on Thursday evenings through August. Stroll through the gardens and enjoy wine, music and dining al fresco. There… Full text