Lynchburg - The Voice - Fall 2022 Edition

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Lynchburg District | Fall 2022

The Voice

Amherst | Appomattox | Buckingham | Campbell | Charlotte | Cumberland | Halifax | Nelson | Pittsylvania | Prince Edward




Lynchburg’s major bridge replacement project on Route 29

North near the Lynchburg Regional Airport has been recognized

by Virginia’s American Society of Civil Engineers. The group

gave its “Best Engineering Project Award: Government” to

VDOT’s Lynchburg District for the work to build a new bridge

and tear down the old one. The work has been challenging for

several reasons.

Chris Winstead, P.E., Lynchburg District Engineer, accepted the Best

Project Award from ASCE in October

The maintenance of traffic is a challenge,” said Terry Meadows,

District Construction Engineer. “It’s probably our most heavily

traveled corridor in the district. We have north of 30,000 vehicles

per day that travel on that stretch of roadway.”

Cont. on page 3







See pages 2 & 3


Blue skies. Sunshine. The smell of great food. The sounds of laughter and lively conversation

Those were the hallmarks of Diversity Day, 2022.

Hundreds were on hand for the event, the first in three years after the Covid-19 pandemic

knocked out the prior two years’ in-person events.

Continued on pages 6 & 7


Lindsey S. Hodges named Halifax Residency Administrator

Early in life, Lindsey S. Hodges, PE,

knew she what she wanted to be when

she grew up.

“From the 5th Grade, I wanted to be a

civil engineer,” Hodges said. “And I’ve

never wavered from that.”

Hodges remembers family trips to the

beach and how fascinated she was with

the roads and bridges being built in North

Carolina. The self-named “construction

geek” used to track their progress from

one year to the next.

Her determination led her to a Civil and

Environmental Engineering degree from

Virginia Tech, then to several different

positions at VDOT, beginning as a Land

Development Engineer in the Salem


From there, she took a position with the

SWRO Specialty Services Group doing

traffic signal design.

“I took that position to learn more and

broaden my background,” Hodges said.

In 2017, she passed her Professional

Engineering exam and the following year,

she became the Senior Engineer Project

Manager for Traffic Engineering in


In 2020, she transitioned to an Area

Construction Engineer role… and on

September 10, the announcement came

that Hodges is the new Halifax Resident


They’ve all been really good stepping

stones,” said Hodges. “The steps I’ve

taken, I think, have really put me in line to

be where I am today. I have enjoyed every

moment of being here.”

“I truly think I’m one of those people that

bleeds orange!” she said with a laugh.

Now, as she familiarizes herself with the

Halifax Residency and the communities

she’s now serving, she has some “thank

yous” to pass along – to friends and

co-workers, but above all, to her mom and


“I have the best parents in the world,” said

Hodges. “They’ve never wavered from me

and they’ve supported anything that I’ve

needed to do or wanted to do and have

had my back on all of it.”



Chief Deputy Commissioner Cathy Mcghee visited the new Buckingham Area Headquarters on October 13, 10 days after crews

started reporting there. The new facility replaces the old Andersonville AHQ and a sub AHQ called Manteo.

pg 2

Pictured left to right: James Johnston, Raymond Motley,

Cathy Mcghee, Scott Frederick

Pictured left to right: Chris Winstead, James Johnston,

Raymond Motley, Cathy Mcghee, Scott Frederick




In addition, Norfolk Southern uses the railroad tracks that run beneath the

bridge – a lot. And those tracks come through at an odd angle, which

requires a much longer span between columns than a typical bridge

construction would utilize.

All of that requires plenty of coordination with the railroad - and the careful

placement of piers to support the structure.

“Working over the railroad is always a big challenge. It’s heavily traveled.

Amtrak trains run on it as well, so track time is limited. We work over the

tracks when the railroad tells us we can work over the tracks,” Meadows


There’s definitely trust and it goes both ways. If we have five hours of track

time and we tell them ‘yeah, we can get this operation done in five hours,’

they are trusting us to make it happen, to not hold up the train traffic. It’s a

challenge to take advantage of these windows of time we have to work

over the tracks, especially in the early stages of the project, constructing

the piers down in the hole right next to the tracks. We are really working

close to those tracks. That’s when it’s really challenging because you have

a lot more exposure down there to the trains coming through and there’s a

lot of ‘get in and get out’ as those windows of time open and close.”

The project is vital, Meadows said, because the existing bridge is fracture

critical meaning there is no redundancy to take on the load if the steel

girder underneath were to crack or break. VDOT has been working to

replace fracture critical bridges and the new design will have a different

span configuration with backup supports in place.

Meadows is grateful for the VDOT employees and the contractor, English

Construction for their approach and efficiency. He agrees that the ASCE

award is confirmation of a job well done.

Virginia ASCE gave its Best Engineering Project Award to

VDOT's Lynchburg District for the Route 29 Airport Bridge


“So much of the work, especially in the early stages, is

building the foundation for the piers. You don’t see it

unless you were to stop and look over the edge of the

existing bridge. There’s quite a bit going on down there.

We had some setbacks early on. The bridge designer had

to do some redesign based on the actual conditions. We

granted English Construction a time extension, but even

with all that has happened, English has done a great job

mitigating those delays. They’ve really made up a lot of

ground. There’s still a very good possibility that they will

finish the project by the original completion date.”

That date is in May of 2023, but traffic will move to the new

bridge much earlier, in December of 2022. At that point,

demolition of the old bridge will begin.

“It’s exciting to get recognized by the local chapter of

ASCE, the community, folks we don’t always interact

with,” said Meadows. “They’re obviously noticing what

we’re doing.”

The new Marysville AHQ became operational on November 14. It combines the Gladys and Yellow Branch AHQs. Both

facilities are significant upgrades from the older buildings, leading to more efficient service for their areas.

pg 3





It was all smiles at the ribbon-cutting for the Kingsville Roundabout project on Route 15

at Route 133 (Kingsville Road). On Monday, October 31, Virginia Secretary of

Transportation Shep Miller was among many distinguished guests on hand to officially

celebrate the project, which will improve safety and allow traffic to move through the

area more efficiently.

In addition to Secretary Miller, Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) member

Bert Dodson; Virginia Senator Mark Peake, (R) 22nd District; Delegate Thomas C.

Wright, Jr., (R), 61st District; Prince Edward County Administrator Doug Stanley; Prince

Edward County Board of Supervisors Chair Dr. Odessa Pride, and Prince Edward

County District 1 Supervisor Dr. Peter Gur attended and helped to cut the ribbon.

Route 15 carries roughly 12,000 vehicles per day and roundabouts have been proven

a safe option for intersections, often safer even than those controlled with traffic


“Roundabouts have many positive attributes,” said Scott Frederick, Farmville Residency

Engineer. “It's common to hear people say that they are safer and more efficient or

that they typically cost less than other intersections. Something that you don't hear

much is that roundabouts still function normally during power outages.”

Prince Edward County submitted a request for the project through SMART SCALE in

2019. Total cost of the project is roughly $2.8 Million.

Early completion of the project would not have been possible without VDOT’s dedicated

employees, the project contractor - Virginia Carolina Paving, and the project’s

inspector – NXL.

pg 4



Walter Lewis looking forward to well-earned retirement

When Walter Lewis talks about his career at VDOT, he does it with a smile.

“My VDOT experience has been great over the years,” Lewis said. “It gave me a

lot of opportunities to deal with the public, hand-in-hand, different contractors

over the years. You get to meet a lot of different people. Every day, there’s

something different. It’s just been great.”

After three years in the U.S. Army, Lewis started at VDOT in Location and

Design. Nearly three years later, he jumped at the chance to take an Inspector

Trainee position, which allowed him to spend more time outdoors.

“Inside just wasn’t for me,” said Lewis.

Walter Lewis in front of his favorite project, Snowden Bridge

He later moved into a Senior Inspector role and never looked back, seemingly

enjoying every minute.

“No regrets at all. I made the right choice. It’s a job that I love to do and couldn’t

ask for anything better.”

Over the years, he’s worked on many projects, including the Route 210 Connector

in Amherst County, a bridge over the Rockfish River in Nelson County, the

Odd Fellows Road project in Lynchburg, and his favorite – Snowden Bridge at

the Amherst/Bedford County line.

Now it’s time to move on, though Lewis says he will miss the people he’s worked

with over the years. He points out, he could have retired years earlier. He just

enjoyed the work he was doing too much to do so.

“When you find something you like, stick with it,” Lewis said.

Lewis will officially retire on July 1, 2023.

pg 5



pg 6


This time around, the remnants of Hurricane Ian

threatened to do the same, but the weather

stayed nice, aside from occasional strong winds,

and the event went ahead largely as planned.

Attendees had plenty of activities to choose

from. Among them – a basketball challenge,

cornhole games, Wii games, a motor grader

simulator, demonstrations from the Department

of Wildlife Resources, and vendors of all stripes

on hand to answer questions.

For many, the highlight of the day was the guest

speaker, Lt. Col. Lenmuel Terry of Virginia State

Police. Lt. Col. Terry spoke of the importance of

organizations more closely representing the

diversity of the communities they serve. He

noted the diversity he sees at VDOT, but also

said opportunities exist to go further.

“How many times have you walked into a place

and you don’t see anybody who looks like you?”

Terry asked. “Sometimes, you take note of that.

And sometimes you can probably tell that

someone doesn’t see someone that looks like

them. When I look around here, I see the

diversification I’m talking about. But can we do

better? Obviously, we can.”

“When I walked through the academy, he was like a light

to see. He was a great person to talk to and I always

looked to see him when I was at the academy,” Walker said.

“He was a fantastic leader. He taught the state police

manual cover to cover and we all went through it under

his leadership.”

Other speakers included Commonwealth Transportation

Board Member Bert Dodson, and District Engineer Chris

Winstead, who thanked the members of the Diversity and

Morale committees for putting the event together and

spoke of the importance of such gatherings.

“I’m committed. Every chance we have to pull something

like this together on an

annual basis, that’s

what I want to do,”

Winstead said. “Our

employees are our

most important asset

and so it’s very

important to do this.”

Then, it was time for

food, fun, and fellowship.

Troy Walker, Senior Engineer/Project Manager,

was honored to introduce Terry, who was his

captain when Walker was a Trooper Trainee in

the VSP.

pg 7



She’s “hectic but happy” while getting up to speed as

HR Benefits Administrator

Darlene Cowart knows it’s not easy

to keep track of all the benefits you

have as a member of the VDOT

family. She’s been cramming to get

up to speed so that when you have

questions - she’ll have the

answers you need.

“It’s just a lot of information to

digest and a lot of different

systems to learn. I’ve been taking

stuff home, too, just to get more

familiar with it all,” Cowart said.

You may think reading through all

that paperwork -- about various

benefit programs, onboarding new

employees, health and life

insurance options and more --

would be not only challenging, but

boring. Cowart says, for her, it’s

anything but.

“I enjoy it, actually. I enjoy reading

about insurance and retirement.

VRS, to me, is fascinating. It’s a

great benefit to the employees.”

And she really enjoys giving employees the information they need – especially for their post-work


The biggest accomplishment for me is to help them feel comfortable with knowing what they

have in retirement,” she said. “And to me, I’m at a success point when I feel confident that they

understand what their retirement is, the package, what they have when they retire.”

Her message to younger VDOT employees is to start planning for retirement now – and make an

appointment to meet with her if you have any questions.

“Build it up. You can retire so much earlier if you get started at a younger age.”

Cowart was born in Campbell County and grew up on her family’s farm. Her husband Mike is a

county deputy. The couple owns a miniature Schnauzer named Hokie. She previously worked for

the county, as well, with her last role being HR Benefits Coordinator there.

Now she with us, at VDOT, and happy.

“Everyone has been so welcoming and warm,” she said. “I really appreciate that.”

If you have questions about your benefits, reach out to Darlene at 434-215-8142 or darlene.cowart@vdot.virginia.gov

to set up an appointment.




How Lynchburg’s Signal Team

is using technology to lead

the way to safer roads

To say the Lynchburg District’s

Signal Team is a busy bunch

would seem a huge understatement.

Just four employees cover

all 10 counties – plus Bedford

County out of the Salem District.

And when a traffic signal goes

down, one or more of these four

workers will be on the road - no

matter the time, no matter the

weather - to fix it.

“You can work your eight hours

here and then be running calls

half the night and be back here

at seven the next morning,” said

Team Leader James Holt. “But I

love it. You gotta love it to do it.”

Holt’s been doing it for 34 years

and in that time, he’s seen and

taken advantage of huge

advancements in technology to

make our roads safer.

Holt said: “When I came here, it

was light bulbs and the controller

had a red dial, a yellow dial,

and a green dial and it had

contacts in it. And when it got

stuck, you pulled the contact

out, cleaned it with an emery

cloth, and stuck it back in.”

Now, he points out, computers

and communications systems

have made the process very


pg 8

The Lynchburg District Signal Team from Left to Right: David Dorr, Troy Miller, James Holt, Gary Mountcastle

“We have a central software system now

that’s statewide and it’s tied to all our

controllers that are online, which enables

me to connect to the controller and look

at them just like I’m in the cabinet, and

see what’s running.”

Impressive, but it still doesn’t necessarily

prevent a trip at 3 a.m. to fix a malfunctioning

signal, be it just down the road or

a 90-minute drive away.

“We’ll never reset a light remotely,” Holt

said. “Now, if there’s a detector stuck or a

camera not picking something up, those

we can do from our house. We can also

adjust the timing of a signal light that


And the technology “hits” have keep on

coming - from video detection systems in

the early 2000s that read traffic and

change signal lights accordingly; to

walkways that use thermal sensors to

determine if someone is crossing the

street; to traffic cameras that can rotate

360-degrees and offer a clear image,

even when zoomed in substantially; to an

advanced fog detection system on the

Monacan Bridge in Amherst County.

“We have sensors all through the bridge

and it shoots a beam of red light to those

sensors,” said Holt. “And if there’s

enough fog to block that beam of light, it

automatically sets off beacons above a

sign that reads ‘Low Visibility Ahead.’”

In fact, the Lynchburg District’s signal

team has been a leader across the

Commonwealth in many different areas.

Holt rattled off the list of improvements

over the years:

• All mast arms – no more signal lights

hanging from wires.

• All LED lights which last 15 years or

more and save a lot of money on

electricity. “Some of these lights don’t

even meet the monthly requirement to

generate a bill.”

• Reflective back plates on all traffic

lights for brighter signals.

• All T-S 2 Model Cabinets (an upgrade

from the old T-S 1 units) meaning no

more need for hard-wiring. “Now, it’s all

done through keystrokes.”

And Lynchburg’s team took over Bedford

County sometime in the late 80s/early

90s, as Route 221 was growing rapidly

and VDOT needed a quicker response

than Salem’s team, an hour’s drive away,

could accomplish.

But Holt gives credit to signal team

members throughout the Commonwealth.

“It doesn’t matter what district they are in,”

he said. “I can call a signal team member

and they will answer. We all communicate

and help each other out as much as we


All of the changes have been focused

primarily on making roads safer, but also

on improving traffic flow and saving

taxpayer dollars.

Holt is certain more change is on the way.

When it gets here, he knows his team will

be ready.

“We do an awful lot with just four people.”

pg 9

Colder weather means heating (and re-heating) the air we breathe

And that can lead to many health problems - and damage

During the winter months, it is all too easy for

indoor air to become extremely dry. Every pass

through our furnace or heat pump adds warmth

to our air, but removes moisture. In fact, during

the winter months, the air in our homes can be

significantly drier than a desert!

Experts say the ideal humidity level is between 30

and 50 percent. In the Sahara Desert, the level is

typically around 25%. That’s dry, but the average

home can easily see humidity levels drop as low

as 13 percent. And that’s a problem because dry

air is often overlooked.

What’s more, drier air can actually cause structural damage to your home,

especially to anything made of wood – framing, floors, doors, and more. And

we all know how painful a zap of static electricity can be.

Your best defense is to measure the humidity level in your home and add

moisture into the air when it gets too dry. A whole house humidifier is a good

option, but smaller, plug-in humidifiers can help, too – at home and in the


Also: use lip balms, skin moisturizers, a nasal spritz or neti pot for irritated

nasal passages. Drink lots of water and take shorter, cooler showers.

Knowing the dangers of dry air and keeping humidity at the right levels can go

a long way toward better, healthier living.

Here’s a list of some of the conditions that can be

exacerbated by low humidity levels:



Other Respiratory Ailments

Sore Throat


Eye irritation

Dry Skin (Dermatitis)


Risk of Infection

Dry air can even cause higher stress levels. In a

2020 study, researchers monitored the heart

rates and stress levels of workers in four

separate buildings – each with varying levels of

air humidity. They found that those in the

buildings with drier air had heart rates that

indicated a stress response. Those workers also

reported getting poorer sleep.

pg 10


Great job on this plow by Lauren Balint’s 4th

and 5th grade art students at Temperance

Elementary School in Amherst! (above)

Kelli Seagle’s art class at Appomattox

Middle School painted this plow for the

holidays. Well done, class! (right)


Welcome to Our New Lynchburg District Employees!

August 10 - November 25, 2022

Jeffrey Wilson, TO II, Timberlake AHQ

Russell Eanes, TO II, Cumberland AHQ

Amanda Cox, Program Admin Spec III, L & D

Daniel Sims, TO II, Traffic

Franklin Chambers, TO II, Amherst AHQ

Shepard Hudson, Constr. Inspector Senior, Lynchburg District

Mark Gilbert, Roadside Coordinator, Lynchburg District

Jeremy L. Mays, TO II, Bryant AHQ

Gabriel A. Hazelwood, TO II, Chatham Bridge Crew

Larry R. Hawker, TO II, Kentuck AHQ

Lisa M. Tinsley, AOS III, Materials

Matthew O. Brumfield, TO II, Chatham Bridge Crew

Micah K. Marquis, TO II, District Wide Bridge Crew

Steven L. Rantz, Equip. Service & Repair Tech I, District Shop

Randy L. Byram, TO II, Brosville AHQ

Terry D. Ragsdale, TO II, Timberlake AHQ

Donald R. Watson, TO II, Mt. Airy

William Whetzel, TO II, Hampden Sydney

Darlene Palmer, AOS III Fiscal

William Sweat, TO II, Madison Heights AHQ

Heather McGuire, Financial Services Spec I

Kayvon Amos, TO II, Buckingham AHQ

Christopher F. Green, Engineer Tech III, Survey

A Fond Farewell to Our Recent Retirees

Jeffrey Milton

Robert Reid

Frank Lampkin

Clayton Evans

pg 11

Lynchburg District Engineer Chris Winstead, PE with members of the Lynchburg District Executive Team at a one-day training retreat at Wintergreen Resort in October

Driving home from a meeting in Richmond in the cold rain recently reminded me of the value of your work. From clipped shoulders, clear signs

and cleaned pipe & ditches to trimmed trees & needed pavement markings, smooth pavement to well designed & installed guardrail and safe

structures to clearly marked work zones and well planned and designed roads and intersections - my quality of life as a traveler was preserved. I

safely arrived home through the wet darkness to a bunch of smiling faces and hugs. What you do and what you enable is priceless. What you

did for me, you do for yourselves & your own families along with hundreds of thousands of customers across our district 24/7/365. Please take a

moment to let that goodness sink in.

Thank you!

What you do is not only take care of a huge infrastructure network and the people who traverse it but you also take care of each other… whether

through continued focus upon employee safety, excellent internal customer service, or through all of the many facets of services like Communications,

Fiscal, HR support, Purchasing, Facilities, IT and Inventory. The list goes on.

Every one of us fits into our VDOT Mission and has value. As a result we all have a purpose larger than ourselves. And I believe each of you has

intrinsic value and is worthy of dignity regardless of momentary performance and regardless of role. The goal is never perfection but we are

always learning and growing incrementally toward excellence together. Much of life’s circumstances are outside of our control. However,

circumstances can never remove our ability to choose our response.

As we move into this Christmas/New Years and holiday season, may we choose to focus upon who and what we are grateful for. Take time this

season to spend with family and friends. I’m praying for good weather so that we can all take a breather. As we come back to 2023, let’s

continue to look after each other and grow the quality of life across our district together through our VDOT Mission, Shared Values, and Ethics.



Chris Winstead


We want to hear from you!

Help bring forward the stories that you want to hear.

Call or email to share your ideas at:

(434) 856-8176 or len.stevens@vdot.virginia.gov

VDOT is on Social Media.

Stay up to date with the latest news by following our social

media accounts. Check us out on FaceBook and Twitter!

VDOT Lynchburg District


pg 10

Lynchburg District | Fall 2022

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