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Virginia DOT's I-81 Operational Improvements Receive National Recognition for Operations Excellence

RICHMOND, VA — The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) has been named a Top 12 national finalist in the America’s Transportation Awards competition sponsored by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), AAA, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. VDOT’s I-81 Corridor Operations Expansion Program won in the Southeastern Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials regional competition in the Operations Excellence - Small Project category for implementing operational solutions to improve reliability and safety along the corridor.

“This recognition highlights the Commonwealth’s commitment to implementing innovative solutions along a vital corridor that is both the Main Street to many citizens, and the key economic corridor in western Virginia,” said Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine.

The I-81 Corridor Operations Expansion Program is part of the larger I-81 Corridor Improvement Program, designed to address travel time delay and safety concerns. A 2018 study by VDOT found that 11.7 million trucks transport $312 billion in goods along this corridor each year. There are also more than 2,000 vehicle crashes annually, 26 percent of which involve heavy trucks. The I-81 Corridor Improvement Program is expected to reduce annual hours of delay by more than 6 million and cut the number of crashes in the corridor by 450 each year.

In July 2019, VDOT began implementing operational improvements including traffic cameras, changeable message signs, curve warning systems, additional Safety Service Patrol resources, and towing programs. By December 2019, these strategies had already resulted in a 58 percent increase in Safety Service Patrol responses to incidents, a four-minute reduction in incident and emergency response times, a seven-minute reduction in incident clearance times, and a reduction of 100,000 vehicle hours of delay.

“We are pleased to receive this recognition from our colleagues and the industry for creating innovative, data-driven solutions that reflect a VDOT of the 21st century,” said VDOT Commissioner Stephen C. Brich.

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