A loss of structural integrity–not built to modern-day standards–with poor drainage– too thin for the amount of traffic.
That’s how VDOT’s chief engineer described the state of concrete on portions of I-264 and I-64 here in Hampton Roads in a 9-page internal report released by VDOT Commissioner Greg Whirley.
The commissioner asked for the review following the February 8th pothole emergency…and according to what investigators found, VDOT and TME Enterprises should have acted years ago to prevent the road from crumbling.
“This report is very comprehensive, he lays it all out there and doesn’t try to hide anything,” said local Commonwealth Transportation Board member Aubrey Layne.
When it comes to VDOT…the chief engineer says local Hampton Roads leadership needs “to monitor performance and hold staff accountable for roadway maintenance.”
The investigation found “no effective proactive intervention by VDOT operations and maintenance staff at the senior levels” to keep the pothole emergency from happening.
The report also found no evidence of any preventative maintenance done on portions of those roads in more than a decade, well before VDOT handed control over to contractors.
Local Commonwealth Transportation Board members say many of these details were never brought to their attention in the past.
“Obviously it’s been a topic of discussion, but in terms of many of the specific conditions of this report, no, we’ve never heard about it before,” said Layne.
When it comes to TME Enterprises, the report holds nothing back.
TME “has not performed repair activities on these potholes in a manner or at a rate sufficient to maintain a safe, durable and smooth surface.”
TME “was not actively looking for potholes prior to notification.”
TME “should take more proactive measures in performing preventative maintenance to help keep potholes from forming.”
VDOT employees told investigators permanent patching of potholes was rarely done, and as for temporary patches, those routinely didn’t get done on time, because of “traffic constraints.”
The report’s findings also say patches could have been done with better, longer lasting materials.
According to the chief engineer—“The contractor should have been aware of existing pavement conditions when it entered into the contract and its maintenance work should have taken this into consideration.”
“There is no doubt that this contract was not adhered to appropriately. The work was unacceptable,” said Layne.
The report just keeps going, slamming both VDOT and TME for following “a reactive rather than a proactive approach to correcting, preventing and delaying the rate of road deterioration.”
Investigators found VDOT’s system too “cumbersome,” causing inconsistencies and problems with “timeliness of data entry.'”
They also noted VDOT and TME relied too heavily on reports by state troopers and drivers to find road damage.
With that damaging information…local Commonwealth Transportation Board members say they aren’t sure about signing a future contract with the company.
“From my perspective as a CTB board member, approving any contract with that type of performance is going to be difficult,” said Layne. “I would want to make sure we have a good partner who understands and lives up to their side of the bargain.”
The report says that because of these failures, the “opportunity to prevent deterioration through preventive maintenance would have been much more effective 4-5 years ago.”
So now, the chief engineer is recommending the formation of a task force to gather long term design proposals for concrete rehab along I-264 and I-64, with a bid for work to be put out in July.
They recommend the road be made thicker, with a structural overlay on top to make it last longer.
CTB board members are now wondering why this proposal wasn’t brought to them years ago.
“The road got in an unsafe condition, and safety is never an issue with funding,” said Layne.
The report also recommends that TME reimburse VDOT $200,000 spent on road work since the pothole emergency was declared on February 8th.