It’s no secret that the West Piedmont Planning District and the surrounding regions and states have been inundated with rainfall in 2018, and this wet pattern appears to so far be continuing into 2019. Between heavy Thunderstorms which dumped copious amounts of rain in the region during the spring and summer, to a continuous pattern of systems moving across from the Pacific, to two tropical systems that impacted the region, the term “drenched” might be an understatement.
At a recent meeting of the Danville Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) Board, Chris Winstead, VDOT’s District Engineer who leads the agency’s Lynchburg Construction District, stated that the City of Danville recorded 5 feet of rain in 2018, and that was before the snowstorm our region experienced in December. Since that time, we have had numerous heavy rainfall events.
As one could image, all of this rainfall can take its toll on the region’s assets – including its transportation system. In October, Tropical Storm Michael caused a U.S. Route 58 bridge spanning Sandy Creek in eastern Pittsylvania County to be closed due to structural issues caused by flooding. A lengthy but necessary detour directed drivers south through Milton, North Carolina before being re-routed to U.S. Route 58. Both east and westbound traffic had since been combined into one side of the roadway to eliminate the need for the detour. In December, VDOT closed the northbound U.S. Route 29 Bypass (Danville Expressway) in the vicinity of Goodyear Boulevard because of a pipe failure under the expressway, and traffic was detoured onto U.S. Route 29 Business through the city. The recent heavy rains were believed to be at least partiall responsible for the pipe failure, which was anticipated to require about two months to repair. VDOT plans to reroute northbound traffic into the southbound lanes to eliminate the need for the detour until the situation has been remediated. Just this week in early January, continuing wet weather resulted in a setback with regard to the pavement on the bridge spanning Sandy Creek on U.S. Route 58 in Pittsylvania County, once again necessitating the reinstatement of the detour through Milton; this time, the duration of the detour is anticipated to be only a matter of days. According to Mr. Winstead, there were at least 30 weather-related detours in VDOT’s Lynchburg Construction District which, in addition to Pittsylvania County and City of Danville, includes the counties of Amherst, Appomattox, Buckingham, Campbell, Charlotte, Cumberland, Halifax, Nelson, and Prince Edward.