The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) is expanding coverage of its Safety Service Patrols (SSP) beginning Monday, July 1. Enhanced coverage will benefit motorists using Interstates 81 and 66 in western Virginia and will improve patrols and response times on both interstates. The new expansion efforts follow the 2018 Interstate 81 Corridor Improvement Plan and historic funding made available during the 2019 reconvened session of the General Assembly.
“Implementing the improvements identified in the I-81 Corridor Improvement Plan is expected to result in an annual reduction of 450 crashes and 6 million hours of delay,” said Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine. “The increased Safety Service Patrols allow us to begin immediately making I-81 safer and more reliable.”
“With new funding available on July 1, VDOT is ready to immediately deploy new services to those who travel the I-81 corridor,” said VDOT Commissioner Stephen C. Brich. “Our 2018 study indicated that many travel challenges along I-81 are caused by crashes and incidents. With expanded Safety Service Patrols and other planned operational enhancements, we can instantly improve our incident monitoring and response.”
The Safety Service Patrols program primarily focuses on incident management and emergency response, which includes detecting incidents and disruptions in traffic, minimizing incident duration, clearing obstructions and debris from the roadway, establishing temporary traffic control for emergency responders and providing scene assistance as needed. Safety Service Patrol trucks are equipped with arrow boards to help direct traffic around the road incident or hazard.
In support of expanded service coverage, VDOT has increased staffing and resources by 12 full-time SSP drivers and 14 patrol trucks. The service operates seven days a week, with additional coverage as needed during inclement weather and holiday travel periods.
The Safety Service Patrol program operates on most major highways throughout Virginia. The service is managed by VDOT’s five regional traffic operations centers.
Further improvements are planned in the coming months, including additional real-time traffic camera coverage and new dynamic message boards along the corridor.