VAA Virginia Asphalt Fall/Winter 2019

08 FALL/WINTER 2019 Earlier this year, Virginia Department of Transpor- tation (VDOT) Commis- sioner Stephen C. Brich, P.E., announced that Barton A. Thrasher, P.E., had been selected as the agency’s new chief engi- neer, filling the role previ- ously held by the retiring Garrett Moore, P.E. As VDOT’s statewide location and design engineer and as the Richmond District engineer, Thrasher brings a variety of exten- sive, specialized experiences to the chief engineer role with over 25 years of trans- portation expertise. Thrasher will provide strategic oversight to many significant pro- grams across the Commonwealth’s 124,000 lane-mile network, including location and design, construction, materials, structure might change in the coming years. In align- ment with the goals outlined in the plan, I plan to ensure that our Six-Year Improve- ment Program (SYIP) and construction program are executed safely, with highest quality, ahead of schedule, and under bud- get. Over $18 billion is directed to highway construction in the plan, which will help address approximately 3,800 projects. With SMART SCALE, our business pro- cesses have fundamentally changed. We are using data-driven factors to prioritize projects and send funding to where it is needed most. While considered a gold standard across the nation, SMART SCALE offers us opportunities to refine our existing cost estimating processes. Success is critical. If left unaddressed, we could be challenged with overruns, loss of trust, and a reduction of cost/benefit analysis, which could increase risks of future approvals and advances. I am committed to ensuring that our people, processes, and tools are meeting the challenges of today and anticipating those in the future. Additionally, the overall pace in our indus- try is quickening. We are delivering histori- cally large, complex projects in challenging conditions and topography where preci- sion and excellence will be necessary. Our Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel Expansion Project, worth $3.6 billion, is one example, but it joins others that demand similar attention: I-66 East Widening: Inside the Beltway, I-66 Express Lanes: Outside the INTERVIEW WITH THE CHIEF Meet Barton A. Thrasher, P.E. VDOT’s New Chief Engineer New technologies and skillsets are already changing the way we do business, and we need to be more nimble than ever. It is an exciting time. and bridge, transportation planning and alternate project delivery. VAA asked the new chief to discuss his experiences, and his outlook for the future. VAA→ Over the last ten years, you have served as VDOT’s Location and Design Engineer and Richmond District Engineer. What attracted you to the Chief Engineer position? THRASHER→ I have enjoyed serving in both field and Central Office capacities at VDOT, and the chief engineer opportunity brought all of that experience together, culminating in the ability to make the strongest and most long-lasting impact. This impact, at its core level, tightly revolves around mak- ing sure that we are improving quality of life and serving people well. We are on the cusp of tectonic shifts in the transportation industry, and I am committed to ensuring that VDOT is ready for them. New technol- ogies and skillsets are already changing the way we do business, and we need to be more nimble than ever. It is an exciting time. VAA→ As the Chief Engineer, you will be presented with challenges and opportunities. What do you see as the two or three biggest challenges and opportunities fac- ing VDOT and the transportation industry? THRASHER→ At VDOT, we have a robust and forward-leaning business plan that guides our decision-making, establishes priorities, and anticipates how our business