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VDOT announces job, rest area cuts

More than 400 hourly Virginia Department of Transportation employees will lose their jobs in cuts that will also shut down numerous rest areas, residency offices and equipment shops statewide.
VDOT’s equipment shop off Bagging Plant Road in Dublin has been spared the axe in the department’s latest efforts to address a $2.6 billion state transportation revenue shortfall. The local equipment shop is one of four that will remain open in the Salem District. Nine others in the district will close.
The six residency offices in the Salem District will be narrowed down to four, with the office in Christiansburg being one of the offices to remain open. The Christiansburg office will serve Pulaski, Giles, Montgomery and Floyd counties.
The two rest areas in Radford and one in Ironto did not fair as well in the budget reductions. Despite having completed about $20 million in renovations to the state’s 41 rest areas for 2007’s Jamestown celebration, the department is proposing to close 25 in order to save about $12 million.
If the Radford and Ironto rest areas are closed, the only rest areas remaining open on Interstate 81 in Virginia will be at Abingdon, Bristol and Winchester.
The cuts are part of a comprehensive plan, “Blueprint for the Future,” presented Thursday at the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) meeting in Richmond.
The agency is seeking to reduce its overall staffing levels by 1,000 full-time employees and 450 wage, temporary and hourly staff over the next 18 months. Currently, the agency has 605 hourly employees and approximately 8,400 full-time, salaried employees.
By July 2010, the transportation department is aiming to have a total of 7,500 employees.
“Budget shortfalls have significantly reduced the commonwealth’s transportation budget, causing VDOT to focus state dollars on maintenance, operations and emergency response efforts,” said David S. Ekern, VDOT commissioner. “Ensuring that VDOT has a long-term strategy to address the changes in our financial future requires that additional tough decisions be made surrounding our construction program, services and staffing.”
Emergency response, maintenance and operations will become the departments’ focus.
“Motorist safety and emergency response continue to be VDOT’s top priorities,” Ekern said. “However, VDOT will be smaller and focused solely on core services and commitments.”
The CTB recently cut $2 billion from the Fiscal Years 2009-2014 Six-Year Improvement Program by either delaying or eliminating 808 projects statewide.
The second phase of the blueprint involves staffing changes and organizational restructuring.
The third phase focuses on reducing spending on VDOT’s programs and services, such as reductions in rest areas and welcome centers, ferry services, safety service patrols, and maintenance, including paving, mowing and snow removal.
The CTB will hold public comment meetings on the proposed changes at meetings across the state in March. The Salem District meeting will be March 10, but the location has not been announced.

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VDOT announces job, rest area cuts

More than 400 hourly Virginia Department of Transportation employees will lose their jobs in cuts that will also shut down numerous rest areas, residency offices and equipment shops statewide.
VDOT’s equipment shop off Bagging Plant Road in Dublin has been spared the axe in the department’s latest efforts to address a $2.6 billion state transportation revenue shortfall. The local equipment shop is one of four that will remain open in the Salem District. Nine others in the district will close.
The six residency offices in the Salem District will be narrowed down to four, with the office in Christiansburg being one of the offices to remain open. The Christiansburg office will serve Pulaski, Giles, Montgomery and Floyd counties.
The two rest areas in Radford and one in Ironto did not fair as well in the budget reductions. Despite having completed about $20 million in renovations to the state’s 41 rest areas for 2007’s Jamestown celebration, the department is proposing to close 25 in order to save about $12 million.
If the Radford and Ironto rest areas are closed, the only rest areas remaining open on Interstate 81 in Virginia will be at Abingdon, Bristol and Winchester.
The cuts are part of a comprehensive plan, “Blueprint for the Future,” presented Thursday at the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) meeting in Richmond.
The agency is seeking to reduce its overall staffing levels by 1,000 full-time employees and 450 wage, temporary and hourly staff over the next 18 months. Currently, the agency has 605 hourly employees and approximately 8,400 full-time, salaried employees.
By July 2010, the transportation department is aiming to have a total of 7,500 employees.
“Budget shortfalls have significantly reduced the commonwealth’s transportation budget, causing VDOT to focus state dollars on maintenance, operations and emergency response efforts,” said David S. Ekern, VDOT commissioner. “Ensuring that VDOT has a long-term strategy to address the changes in our financial future requires that additional tough decisions be made surrounding our construction program, services and staffing.”
Emergency response, maintenance and operations will become the departments’ focus.
“Motorist safety and emergency response continue to be VDOT’s top priorities,” Ekern said. “However, VDOT will be smaller and focused solely on core services and commitments.”
The CTB recently cut $2 billion from the Fiscal Years 2009-2014 Six-Year Improvement Program by either delaying or eliminating 808 projects statewide.
The second phase of the blueprint involves staffing changes and organizational restructuring.
The third phase focuses on reducing spending on VDOT’s programs and services, such as reductions in rest areas and welcome centers, ferry services, safety service patrols, and maintenance, including paving, mowing and snow removal.
The CTB will hold public comment meetings on the proposed changes at meetings across the state in March. The Salem District meeting will be March 10, but the location has not been announced.

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