VDOT is AWOL

Virginia’s Department of Transportation (VDOT) is an all-but-missing entity in Floyd County since the department reorganized and shut down the Hillsville residency office earlier this year and transferred us to the Christiansburg residency.

Since the reorganization and forced retirement of longtime resident administrator Bob Beasley, VDOT can’t be bothered with sending a representative to meet with the county’s board of supervisors. Beasley used to come to every meeting to bring the board up to date on projects and gather information on road problems reported by each supervisor. Beasley retired five months ago and no one from VDOT has shown up for a board meeting for four months.

VDOT closed one of the county’s two maintenance shops as part of the “reorganization.”

Even worse, citizen complaints about potholes, road surface problems and other road needs go unanswered. VDOT apparently doesn’t have time to deal with Floyd County and the neglect is obvious to anyone who travels the county’s roads.

On Harvestwood Road, a half-dozen large potholes continue to grow. Despite constant complaints by residents along the road VDOT has not responded.  On Sandy Flats Road near Poor Farm Road, a rusting culvert has caused a section of the road to sink into a suspension-destroying rut.  We first reported the problem to VDOT five months ago. No response. No repairs. No action. Someone threw some tar on it recently and made the situation worse.

On a recent motorcycle ride around the county, I counted more than 200 potholes that need attention.  A recent patching job on Connor Grove Road was bungled and left the road covered with gravel and poorly-applied tar. A similar problem occurred earlier this year on Christiansburg Pike.

The agency has resurfaced Kings Store Road and some streets in and near the town of Floyd and is currently seeking public comment on a project to replace the Pine Creek bridge on U.S. 221 but badly-needed road repairs are ignored and visibility-impairing overgrowth at intersections remain unattended.

I called the VDOT district office in Salem on Monday and asked to speak to Richard Caywood, district administrator, about the situation. He wasn’t available so I asked for a call back.

Four days later, I’m still waiting for that phone call.

UPDATE: A VDOT crew appeared Thursday and fixed the sinkhole on Sandy Flats Road, along with some other repairs.

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9 thoughts on “VDOT is AWOL”

  1. This is just the surface, the sub-contractor mowed down several of Citizens Telephone boxes,
    The gravel roads are being maintained at ~1/3 of the traditional frequency, culverts aren’t being cleaned, paved roads are potholed (and holding water which will lead to rapid deterioration with freezing temperatures). Which goes with 7 VDOT local long-time employees taking “early retirement,” that would be the people who knew the territory. The employees who are left are working with missing or inadequate gear, some of the machinery has been “surplussed.”
    Governor lays off the worker bees, sells the mobile infrastructure, eliminates all projects on the 4 year plan (anyone notice the missing concrete on the bridge between Rays and the Great Oaks?) finds himself with a surplus, and gives a raise to the bureaucrats that are left, maybe to buy loyalty? Not that politics might have anything to do with this, but we got ourselves a heck of a mess with this Party going on. We’re all in this together.
    Jeff

  2. The problems with VDOT have been going on much longer than the current Governor has been in office. In my opinion it has been a top down problem where the administrators that sit in Salem and Richmond don’t understand what it takes to operate in the field. I have personally heard stories about some of the crazy things they expect to be done. They refuse to listen to those that actually do the work. There is a reason so many left early including one in my own family. From what I hear this has been an ongoing problem that has been getting worse for the last 10 to 15 years and really has been coming to a head over the last several.

  3. On Bethlehem Church Road, most of the worst potholes are in blind curves (of course!). The tree limbs by the road are hanging so low that the antenna on my Jeep brushes some of them if I stay on my side of the road. Two huge limbs that fell under the weight of snow and ice last winter (again in curves) were only recently chipped up and moved off the side of the road. There is absolutely no shoulder in a couple of spots–if you run off the pavement, you’ll be down the steep embankment. Fortunately, a couple of Hispanics mowed the sides of the roads about a month ago, cutting down 2- and 3-feet high grass that often hid deer by the side of the road. Someone took it upon themselves to put concrete in a couple of the worst pot holes last week. On other roads in the area, culverts are sinking, shoulders are washing away, and roads are in general disrepair. It makes me wonder if there will be anyone to plow snow and put down abrasives this winter. I’ve already warned my employer that I may not be able to get out of Floyd County this winter due to the absence of VDOT!

  4. I know the potholes are really tearing up stuff and costing tax payers a lot because of poor road care.
    I sure hope they are stocking up on Salt for the winter they got caught with virtually none last year, and we all paid for that.
    I’ve lived in a lot of places but never one like this that they do nothing much to take car of things.
    I go over to Franklin county to church and notice the roads there are excellent and every year all fixed, and same with a couple other counties around us. The grass roadside is mowed, the trash is picked up, Isn’t that the same DOT? I blame the county and our representatives for letting them get away with it,thats their job.
    I called the Sheriff’s office and said why don’t you get prisoners to pick up trash thats what they do in most other states, no result, I pick up hundreds, yes hundreds of beer cans on Franklin pike past the
    Parkway and a few weeks later there all back, so there is a LOT of drinking and driving also, I talked to a Tropper about a check point for drinking and driving, never happened, this county is just falling apart no doubt.

  5. Part of the problem is the funding formulas. Floyd County has a lot of roads, and not a lot of people. Most funding is based on population primarily, so Floyd gets the short end of the stick for maintenance funds from that. Combined with the office closures and general cutbacks going on everywhere and it makes a bad situation far worse. Raise the gas tax and it will begin to help, but this is a major problem rooted squarely in Richmond, that began in earnest more than 2 decades ago and has festered into what we have today.

  6. I’ve been intending to speak to someone about the speed in which MOST drivers come down Rt.8 into town (from the south down long hill). It is 25 mph starting at the town limits. I work at that end of town and see this all day every day. Sometimes I get so mad I wave my arms and shout (not the best idea). They fly past the Winter Sun building then slam on their brakes right before the crosswalk at the Country Store. I don’t really know who to talk to but thought I’d start with our new town manager.
    Just like others who are taking matters into their own hands, we have talked about making signs ourselves and asking a couple of private land owners if they would be willing to put them on their property. This is extremely dangerous. I saw a dog almost get hit last week and there are many children who traverse the sidewalks in that area. I saw 2 kids crossing at the cross walk on their skooters and a car slammed on their brakes to avoid hitting them.
    This isn’t rocket science or an expensive fix. A couple more signs might make a difference.

    • There oughta be a law. Oh shucks, there is one already. I would start by noticing how many speed limit signs already exist as the transition first occurs. Also notice how visible they are and whatever else might distract drivers from not noticing the speed sign(s).

      If that doesn’t seem to be a problem then it’s a matter of enforcement. It would have to be intense enough for a long enough period of time to get a reputation as a ‘speed trap’ with large numbers of offenders having conversations about how expensive a ticket is.

      Maybe a new sign that says Big Brother is watching, even if he isn’t. A fake camera?

      Unfortunately the easy answer is more attentive and considerate drivers. Good luck with that.

  7. Every time they tar and gravel a road such as the recent “paving” of Connors Grove and Long Level they make the road worse and more dangerous as far as I’m concerned. Anybody who rides a motorcycle would agree I’m sure. Who decides which roads to do this to? Why not sweep off the excess gravel once everything has settled? As far as all the speeding around here, I would love to see them set up some radar every once in a while. I’ve told the troopers that they are welcome to set it up at my place.

  8. The “privatization” of VDOT started years ago. As a former employee it started many years ago. We stopped seeing the problem. Started counting dollars. “Bandaid” job became the norm. Some of this was done to silence the complainer. I talked to a native if FC a few years ago about his driveway. He couldn’t turn in with his gooseneck trailer. I told him to call VDOT. He told me he didn’t want to bother them. So he had to learn a new way; the squeaky wheel got the grease and the loudest squeak got fixed first. As for privatization employees were schooled in it (bull from Richmond) the change. We all knew we could do a better job. When challenged with facts that VDOT could do a ditching job cheeper. Our representative form Richmond states: “You don’t understand , it will work.” Policies were set in motion to hinder VDOT as to make the contractor look better. No overtime,inferior snow melting chemicals,the freedom for the contractor to spare no expense.VDOT hired “bean counters” rather than workers. The next time you see a pothole just remember: it looks really good on paper.

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