VDOT dodges 'worst case' scenario
with faulty pavement on I-64
The Virginia Department of Highways and Transportation has completed a survey of troublesome pavement on I-64, a spokesperson said Wednesday, and the problem isn't as bad as first thought. "At least the entire road won't have to be ripped up and re-paved," said a source familiar with the situation. It will be a multi-million dollar repair and continued opening delay.
The project is already 33% - plus over budget.
Virginia News Service first reported that there was a problem with drainage on a 2.5 mile section of I-64 beginning at the Mercury Boulevard Interchange on Feb. 22. It had been discovered earlier by VDOT engineers that the new roadway was paved 'flat' - without drainage in some places. It was feared the entire section might have to be ripped up and repaved in the worst case scenario.
After VNS's report, Transportation Commission Philip Shucet appointed a special panel on Feb. 23 with instructions to determine extent of the problem and possible solutions 'within 2 weeks.'
Shucet has scheduled an announcement @ 1 p.m. Monday news conference detailing the extent, cause, and cost of getting the road open to public use. It may be a multi-million dollar expense.
Still undetermined is who was responsible for the problem. Originally, a VDOT engineer reported to the contractor, E. V. Williams (now owned by the Branch Group) that the roadway was being poured flat. Williams, VDOT said, ignored the warning and completed the job. The Branch Group, based in Roanoke, is the 20th largest privately owned company in Virginia.
Shucet, a professional administrator known for his blunt, no-nonsense still of bureaucracy busting, said blame will be placed later and action taken against both VDOT employees and the contractor. At the time of VNS's story, Shucet, who lives in Virginia Beach and commutes to Richmond, said he first learned of the problem in June. Reporter Stephanie Heinatz of the Daily Press in a subsequent investigation discovered VDOT employees knew of the problem as early as last December.