CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) - VDOT Hampton Roads District Administrator James Utterback spoke with WAVY.com about the tattered image his organization has in the area.
A pothole fiasco as well as a badly planned bridge closure left Hampton Roads residents in disbelief of the functionality of VDOT.
"Improving communication is key to VDOT improving it's image," Utterback told WAVY.com Friday.
Utterback served in the U.S. Air Force and went to VMI. Before he takes helm of the Hampton Roads district administrator May 15, he is completing his duties as Culpeper district administrator. He will be replacing Dennis Heuer.
"I just want to make that clarification before I give you a bunch of 'I don't knows.' I haven't been in the district," Utterback said.
Utterback will need all the experience he can muster to remedy the last three full months of the VDOT pothole pain.
"The best way is to move forward with the projects," Utterback said.
Utterback pointed to the work done since the TME Enterprises pothole debacle February 8; 300 claims have been filed for flat tires and car damage caused by a failure by VDOT and its contractor TME Enterprises to properly maintain I-264.
"What happened on 264, no one is proud of," Utterback said. "We must do a better job moving forward. We are working closely with TME to get resolutions [for pothole damage reimbursement]. That process has been slower than any of us want it to be."
Nearly three months following the pothole disaster and no one has received reimbursement.
"Commissioner [Greg] Whirley has said we are going to get to the bottom of it," Utterback said. "We are going to get something done. We are on top of it. We are working with TME. These are tough things. If they were easy, it would already be done."
Utterback said he cares about maintaining the system we have, building relationships, restoring confidence, and listening.
"We have to listen... we've got to do a better job of listening," Utterback responded, when tol of the low confidence city leaders have in VDOT.
Utterback credits the aggressive work now underway laying concrete by Curtis Contracting that builds public confidence in VDOT.
"It's really about making sure folks on the front line understand expectations, what they are supposed to do, and elevating issues as they come up," Utterback said.
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Michelle Price with Newport News Public Schools told WAVY.com at least three city school buses ran substantially late Wednesday afternoon, delivering children home several hours after dismissal.
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Hampton Fire units arrived at the scene of a residential fire in the 3800 block of Shell Road just after 6 p.m.
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