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Funding shortfalls affect VDOT

With an estimated $2 million to $2.5 million in state and federal funding cuts anticipated through 2014, Virginia Department of Transportation officials say road systems are not likely to be as good in coming years as they are today.
David Clarke, area VDOT resident engineer, said the agency is working on a “blueprint” plan for dealing with the nation’s declining economy. The plan not only calls for staff and office cuts, but also gears the agency toward maintenance of existing systems and away from new construction.
Monday night, Clarke went over the proposed blueprint with Pulaski County Board of Supervisors. The plan recently was released by VDOT Commissioner David S. Ekern.
The plan calls for changes in organization, staffing, services, programs and the Commonwealth’s Transportation Board program.
The bottom line, the report states, is that VDOT will be “a smaller agency with a different look.” Safety will remain the primary priority, but services throughout the state will be reduced.
“The probability is system conditions will not be as good as they are today,” the blueprint reads.
Clarke said VDOT’s focus will be on repairing existing systems before expanding. However, he said, projects that are underway are expected to be completed.
Board of Supervisors Chairman Joe Sheffey asked Clarke’s opinion on the future of the Route 114 bridge project over the New River in Fairlawn, given the proposed changes in operations and policy.
Clarke said he has “a feeling” that project will stay in line for completion since it already is underway. He did acknowledge, however, that advertisement of the project has been pushed to January. “It is still in the six-year plan,” he added.
He said he would keep board members informed of any meetings or hearings pertaining to the project so the supervisors may express their views to VDOT.
The blueprint plan calls for “planning for new major construction to become episodic.”
To streamline VDOT’s organization, residency offices and central office divisions will be reduced by about 30 percent, and equipment repair facilities will be reduced 40 percent.
Staffing changes would delay pay increases from this November until July 2009. Eighteen hundred classified, wage and temporary positions presently vacant will be eliminated.
The plan also calls for reduced staffing levels. The number of classified staff would be reduced from 8,400 to 7,500; wage and temporary employees would be cut by 700, from 1,200 to 500; and senior management would be reduced 20 percent.
The target level of staffing for central offices would be 1,000 rather than 1,300.
The plan calls for all existing service contracts to be evaluated. Some may be renegotiated while others may be cancelled. Services provided by VDOT (such as snow and ice removal, roadside maintenance standards and striping, signing and lighting) also will be evaluated for statewide consistency. Ferry and rest area services will be evaluated for reduction or elimination, or self-sustaining fee structures will be considered.
Also, the agency’s reserve fund for major infrastructure failure will be reduced 20 percent.
Ekern says no function or service of VDOT is “off the table” for consideration in the streamlining process.

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Funding shortfalls affect VDOT

With an estimated $2 million to $2.5 million in state and federal funding cuts anticipated through 2014, Virginia Department of Transportation officials say road systems are not likely to be as good in coming years as they are today.
David Clarke, area VDOT resident engineer, said the agency is working on a “blueprint” plan for dealing with the nation’s declining economy. The plan not only calls for staff and office cuts, but also gears the agency toward maintenance of existing systems and away from new construction.
Monday night, Clarke went over the proposed blueprint with Pulaski County Board of Supervisors. The plan recently was released by VDOT Commissioner David S. Ekern.
The plan calls for changes in organization, staffing, services, programs and the Commonwealth’s Transportation Board program.
The bottom line, the report states, is that VDOT will be “a smaller agency with a different look.” Safety will remain the primary priority, but services throughout the state will be reduced.
“The probability is system conditions will not be as good as they are today,” the blueprint reads.
Clarke said VDOT’s focus will be on repairing existing systems before expanding. However, he said, projects that are underway are expected to be completed.
Board of Supervisors Chairman Joe Sheffey asked Clarke’s opinion on the future of the Route 114 bridge project over the New River in Fairlawn, given the proposed changes in operations and policy.
Clarke said he has “a feeling” that project will stay in line for completion since it already is underway. He did acknowledge, however, that advertisement of the project has been pushed to January. “It is still in the six-year plan,” he added.
He said he would keep board members informed of any meetings or hearings pertaining to the project so the supervisors may express their views to VDOT.
The blueprint plan calls for “planning for new major construction to become episodic.”
To streamline VDOT’s organization, residency offices and central office divisions will be reduced by about 30 percent, and equipment repair facilities will be reduced 40 percent.
Staffing changes would delay pay increases from this November until July 2009. Eighteen hundred classified, wage and temporary positions presently vacant will be eliminated.
The plan also calls for reduced staffing levels. The number of classified staff would be reduced from 8,400 to 7,500; wage and temporary employees would be cut by 700, from 1,200 to 500; and senior management would be reduced 20 percent.
The target level of staffing for central offices would be 1,000 rather than 1,300.
The plan calls for all existing service contracts to be evaluated. Some may be renegotiated while others may be cancelled. Services provided by VDOT (such as snow and ice removal, roadside maintenance standards and striping, signing and lighting) also will be evaluated for statewide consistency. Ferry and rest area services will be evaluated for reduction or elimination, or self-sustaining fee structures will be considered.
Also, the agency’s reserve fund for major infrastructure failure will be reduced 20 percent.
Ekern says no function or service of VDOT is “off the table” for consideration in the streamlining process.

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