Virginia will spend $355 million to clear roads more quickly

WASHINGTON – When an accident blocks the highways, commuters can sometimes face excruciating delays.

On Tuesday, for example, a 10-car pileup on Interstate 95 in Prince William County backed up traffic for miles.

In the future, such crashes could be cleared faster under a new six-year $355 million contract with Reston based Serco Inc., the Virginia Department of Transportation says.

“We’re gonna be bringing some additional vehicles similar to our service-safety patrol and severe incident response vehicles to help with quick clearing,” says VDOT operations engineer Dean Gustafson.

Under the contract VDOT will be able to open or reverse the HOV lanes more quickly, and keep electronic signs more up to date using 900 cameras and a thousand road sensors statewide, he says.

The state has five operations centers across the state, which under the new plan would be able to coordinate better and back each other up when major incidents occur.

Those centers are located in Northern Virginia, Richmond, Hampton Roads, Salem and Staunton.

The contract still has to be approved by the Commonwealth Transportation Board.

Serco is also contracted to provide more information to the 511 travel telephone line in an effort to reduce travel time.

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