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VDOT Explains Midday I-64 Roadwork - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

VDOT Explains Midday I-64 Roadwork

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VDOT crews are working to fix a patch of dangerously loose earth on Afton Mountain. VDOT crews are working to fix a patch of dangerously loose earth on Afton Mountain.

VDOT's work to shore up Afton Mountain above Interstate 64 is frustrating drivers who have been caught in long road closures, miles of back-ups and clogged alternate routes. 

VDOT says the work is needed, but drivers are begging for a break - and we're only partway through the project.

It's going to take until at least Thursday for this phase of the project to wrap up. But even after that, VDOT says you can expect interstate traffic near Afton Mountain to remain a little congested.

A blaring horn lets crews along an empty I-64 know that traffic is stopped, and work can begin.

"We really felt like that was the responsible way to do it," said Lou Hatter, spokesman for VDOT.

VDOT is working to fix a patch of dangerously loose earth on Afton Mountain, sitting just feet from the interstate.

"The biggest danger, of course, would be an uncontrolled slide of the unstable area down the mountain, and that could potentially affect the road and any traffic underneath of it," Hatter said.

That's why, this week, VDOT is shutting down the busy highway intermittently throughout the day.

"The backups today have been manageable. A mile, mile and a half…hold the traffic, work for 45 minutes, and then flush the traffic," said Forester Wright, a VDOT work zone safety coordinator.

But that stopped traffic has drivers frustrated. Some say they weren't given enough warning, while others wonder why a shutdown is even necessary. VDOT says it had to move quickly to address the problem, which meant shorter notice. Everything else comes down to safety. 

"We don't want a situation where we have some material come down the mountain in an uncontrolled way and there's traffic traveling underneath that," Hatter said.

Others have questioned the timing of the project, taking place between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. each day. Why not just do the work at night?

"The risk of doing it at night, where visibility is not as good, the risk to the personnel who are doing the work…it was just determined that we needed to do it during the day," Hatter said. 

VDOT is encouraging people to use Route 250 to avoid the closures altogether, and says that has been helping with the congestion. 

VDOT hopes to wrap up this phase of the project by Thursday. But starting next week, it will close down one westbound lane between mile markers 100 and 102 to haul the excavated dirt to a disposal site.

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