Around-the-clock traffic monitoring in southwestern Virginia will soon get a new home. The Commonwealth Transportation Board awarded a $5.1 million contract for the design and construction of a new Smart Traffic Center for the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT). The board's action came in mid-June during its regular monthly meeting in Richmond.
Located in Salem, the new traffic-monitoring center will help VDOT consolidate several functions to improve traffic flow and traveler information for a 29-county region in southwestern and central Virginia. Taking a regional look at traffic patterns and traffic flow helps VDOT better manage incidents and provide more timely information to motorists.
VDOT recently elevated traffic monitoring and operations of its road systems to a higher level within its management structure. "The new center is a key part of VDOT's increased focus on managing traffic and highway systems operations from a regional and statewide perspective," said Ken King, P.E., VDOT's operations director for southwestern Virginia.
VDOT's Salem District Office has operated a temporary Smart Traffic Center serving the western part of the state since April 2005. Drivers have benefited from the center's advanced technology that provides real-time traffic information through electronic message signs along the I-81 corridor, Highway Advisory Radio and Virginia's 511 traveler information system.
The new permanent center in Salem will overlook I-81 at Exit 140 and will be constructed on existing state property at VDOT's Hanging Rock area headquarters, located off Route 311. The new 17,500-sq-ft facility will house VDOT's regional operations staff and serve as a base for the Safety Service Patrol that operates on the I-81 corridor.
The contract to design and build the new facility was awarded to Breakell Inc. General Contractors from Roanoke. Work to prepare the construction site and to finalize the building's design will begin this summer.
The new facility in Salem is expected to be completed by fall 2007 and will be the last of five planned Smart Traffic Centers in Virginia. Currently, centers are located in northern Virginia, Hampton Roads, Richmond and Staunton.