Tropical Storm Michael

A car passes by some standing water along Brooke Road in Stafford County on Oct. 12, 2018. The remnants of tropical storm Michael left some without power and roads flooded in the Fredericksburg region overnight.

While winter is heading into its final weeks, work continues on tropical storm- damaged roads in the Northern Neck, Middle Peninsula and one in Stafford County.

On Oct. 10, Hurricane Michael slammed into Florida and eventually became a tropical storm that swept through North Carolina and Virginia, causing widespread flooding and damage.

The storm closed more than 100 state-maintained roads in the Virginia Department of Transportation’s 14-county Fredericksburg District. The Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula sustained the most damage.

VDOT crews have been working on damaged roads in those areas since, including six closed roadways in the Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula, along with the Hamlin Drive in Stafford, local VDOT spokeswoman Kelly Hannon said in an update on the work.

On the Stafford road, crews are repairing a “void” under the pavement and replacing a corrugated metal pipe with two smaller ones. The road, in the Ridge Point subdivision, is slated to open in April.

The Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula roadways also are undergoing extensive work, such as replacement of large drainage pipes, along with a bridge and roadways washed out in the flooding from the tropical storm.

Tropical Storm Michael compounded damage to the district’s infrastructure that happened earlier in 2018.

The record amount of rain that drenched the state and Fredericksburg area last year led to $2.5 million in local infrastructure failures—everything from giant sinkholes to entire slopes washing away along roadsides.

Maintenance work accounts for a large chunk of VDOT’s work and budget, and is essential to keeping the road system running. And just like the expansion of the road system, maintenance work never stops.

Big brother to

the rescue?

A bill by Virginia lawmakers approving speed cameras in work zones sits on the governor’s desk.

This would be an about-face for Virginia, which is bordered by localities (Maryland and Washington, D.C.) that use technology such as speed cameras to issue tickets.

Speeders and red-light runners are a cancer on the roads, and it seems clear using cameras is a way to cut down on those infractions. But there’s a potential dark side to using technology like this: abuse by people operating it.

The auto club AAA pointed out last week that Washington, D.C., generated more than $930 million (yes, nearly $1 billion) through parking and traffic tickets over the past three years.

A large chunk of that change came through photo citations. Last year alone, clicking cameras generated more than 1.2 million tickets in the district, accounting for nearly half of the 2.7 million total citations, according to AAA.

Trying to keep scofflaws in check is a noble effort, especially in work zones. Let’s hope the goal with the Virginia law is to make the roads safer and not a slick move to create another state-mandated fundraising mechanism.

Driver’s license double-check

The bit in last week’s column about the difficulty of each state’s driver’s license requirements got one part wrong about Virginia, according to a tip by a reader. The state does indeed require anyone 18 or older to hold a learner’s permit, for 60 days, before they can get the real thing.

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Scott Shenk: 540/374-5436