VDOT emails detail how agency handled "Pothole Friday"

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by Cleve Bryan, 13News

WVEC.com

Posted on March 1, 2013 at 7:06 PM

Updated Tuesday, Nov 19 at 1:42 PM

NORFOLK--After weeks of questions, VDOT provided 13News with dozens of internal emails that shed new light on how the agency handled the infamous ‘Pothole Friday.’

On February 8th, more than a dozen vehicles broke down along I-264 when rain washed away temporary pothole repairs.

At 9:16 that morning, VDOT administrator Raymond Culpepper told repair contractor TME to "make sure you're prepared to run pothole crews this weekend due to the heavy rains we are getting today we will be having an influx of potholes after the storm."

At 10:53 a.m. VDOT facility manager Stephen Boyce wrote to Culpepper about having just driven on I-264 saying, "I have never seen so many potholes. Chunks of potholes debris all over the roadway and flying up on cars… something needs to be done ASAP."

By 12:28 p.m. VDOT received 15 complaints of cars with flat tires.

Then at 12:53 p.m. an email confirms VDOT had closed 2 lanes of traffic to address potholes.

Several hours passed from the first warning to the first time cars were diverted out of harm’s way.

During the pothole nightmare, our investigation shows Commonwealth Transportation Board member Aubrey Layne wrote a strongly worded email to VDOT commissioner Greg Whirley.

He said on Saturday, February 9, while repairs were underway, “We should have known this situation would happen. Temporary patches do not hold up under wet and cold conditions.”

Friday, Layne explained to 13News why he was so upset.

"VDOT was on TV saying ‘Well we had inclement weather.’ Well we knew it was coming. So if we knew it was coming how can that be an excuse when we knew we were going to have a problem,”  questions Layne.

In response to why more wasn't done to prevent “Pothole Friday,” VDOT spokesperson Lauren Hansen said by email, “To say we should have addressed these concerns beforehand would imply that we would have known what patches were going to fail. I don’t believe that is the case.”

Layne points out that the existence of numerous temporary patches on I-264 was not a secret and should have been addressed with more permanent fixes months in advance.

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