Skip to comments.VDOT asks local residents to 'hack' road construction
Posted on 08/24/2018 11:09:29 PM PDT by Tolerance Sucks Rocks
MARTINSVILLE-How do you build Interstate 73? How would you expand U.S. 220 in either direction? The Virginia Department of Transportation is open for suggestions, for these or any other road projects in the commonwealth.
To do that, the department is holding a series of hack-a-thon events throughout the commonwealth, setting up one in each region. For Martinsville and Henry County, the regional meeting will be this Friday and Saturday at CoLab Roanoke, 1327 Grandin Road SW.
Data and technology are changing how we do business, saidVDOT Chief Deputy Commissioner Rob Cary in a statement. These hackathons are opportunities for innovators to unleash VDOTs vast amounts of data to provide new and innovative solutions in transportation.
The hack-a-thon is done in the form of a contest, with people being asked to submit concepts and solutions to solve transportation needs.
The hack-a-thon is open to anyone, so you may see participants from regions outside of the Roanoke area, said Lindsey Legrand, assistant division administrator for VDOT Communications.
There are some guidelines that people need to follow, in order to compete. First, you must be 18 years old or older. Second, if you're working as part of a group, at least one member of that group has to be at the event Friday and Saturday to present your idea. Your project also has to use data from VDOT's SmartRoads Portal. You can find that by going to SmarterRoads.org. All data about traffic numbers for your presentation has to come from this location. The projects will then be judged on originality, impact, polish and presentation, as well as the approach used.
Anyone who takes part is asked to build a working proof or prototype, basically a visual image that illustrates how your project would work. If you win the regional competition, then you'll win a cash prize and be able to pitch your project before VDOT officials later this year. The same goes for the second place winner. There will also be a People's Choice winner selected, based on what the crowd supported the most.
The project comes as regions are being asked to consider different options, in terms of how to fund road projects. In July, for example, the Martinsville City Council and Henry County Board of Supervisors were both asked to consider implementing a transportation tax district, to help fund road projects in this area.
The idea would be to allow participating cities and counties within the established district to raise the sales tax in their locality, in order to fund local road projects.
The original proposal in 2016 called for an increase from the current 5.3 percent sales tax to 6 percent. A governing board would be selected from the participating cities and counties, and that board would determine where within the district the money would be spent. The process is similar to transportation taxing districts already established in Northern Virginia and the Tidewater region.
In Hampton Roads, theres both a 0.7 percent increase in sales tax and a 2.1 percent gas tax that helps generate revenue.
Since their creation in 2013, the taxes helped pay for the widening of I-64 through the Hampton Roads area, an environmental study of whats called the Hampton Roads Third Crossing, a road to connect to the I-564 Intermodal Connector and with I-664.
It also helped fund improvements to interchanges along I-64 and I-264 in the Hampton Roads area.
One way to plan transportation . . .
For reference, for some non-Virginia folks....this is pretty much off the track, and fairly rural. There’s just not much of a reason to pass through the town.
I’m wincing a bit at the word choice. In the old days, “hack” meant to just slap something together to get it to work. “Just hack something together” was a directive to get the product through the upcoming trade show or investor meeting or whatever. A “hack” is not intended to be in the final product. “That’s a good hack” was a compliment, but it was also a recognition that it was still a hack.
But “that’s a hack job” meant it was bad. And of course, modern parlance is that hacking is malicious, &c.
Maybe “brainstorm a thon” or “contribute a thon” or somesuch . But that doesn’t quite have the same snap of course.
Personally, I think they're very effective ways of looking at a problem differently and coming up with solutions that would otherwise not be proposed.
I suppose the question is what percentage of the traffic load is local, as opposed to long-distance travelers passing through. The wisdom of the ages is that if the new road bypasses the town, it eventually kills the town. New businesses will be on the new road. The old downtown doesn't die overnight -- this takes 20-30 years -- but the long, slow decline is almost inevitable. Since the 1950's, small towns across America, my old hometown among them, have been committing suicide, aided and abetted by state DOT officials who never saw a town they wouldn't gut -- or an historic site they wouldn't destroy -- if it saved three minutes on a theoretical 100 mile drive. If the through truck traffic is sufficiently oppressive that residents want a bypass, fine. But otherwise, I'd let travelers endure a couple of stoplights and keep the town alive. Obviously local situations will vary.
And if you walk,
I’ll tax your feet
I’m the tax man...
It is heard all over on every construction project and every factory shop floor, thousands and thousands of times......”and then I told that Engineer.....”
Hack-a-thon, getting the ranks ready for the vote-a-thon in case the Ruskies let them down again?
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