Lake Fire & Rescue pressing VDOT to plan for emergency access

Major construction planned for Rts. 600, 618

By Heather Michon

Lake Monticello Volunteer Fire & Rescue (LMVF&R) is asking the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) to work with them to prevent any service delays that might be caused by the construction of turn lanes on Rt. 600 (South Boston Road) at Rt. 618 (Lake Monticello Road).

The project, now scheduled to begin in December 2026 and expected to last into mid-2027, will close Rt. 600 from the Riverside Gate to the intersection of Rt. 618.

During public meetings in 2023, local fire and rescue officials shared their concerns with VDOT that the construction plan would slow response times on emergency calls north, south, and east of the intersection.

At the time, VDOT assured them there would be provisions to allow fire and rescue vehicles through the barricades, with “flagmen” posted on each side of the construction zone.

In a letter to VDOT project manager John Rose last month, LMVFD&R Fire Chief Richard J. Constantino said that after some thought and discussion, “we have several questions which must be answered and be resolved so the quality of services this organization provides…would not be compromised or seriously impacted.”

Among the unanswered questions were how emergency vehicles would pass through the barricade at night and on weekends—when flag crews would presumably not be on duty—and whether heavy emergency apparatus would be able to get through the construction zone if there was significant excavation on the roadway.

Constantino also pointed out that each of the detour options would add between 4 and 14.4 miles to emergency calls. 

This, combined with the increased traffic on all these routes, would only compound the potential for long delays.

“As you can imagine, any lengthy detour will dramatically increase our response times and mileage to unacceptable levels, which will result in emergency vehicles reaching emergency scenes in unfavorable times, thereby placing the lives and structures of those we are sworn to protect at imminent risk and jeopardy,” wrote Constantino.

Since sending the letter in early May, Constantino said VDOT has been responsive to their concerns.

On May 21, Constantino, former LMVF&R Rescue Chief Eddie Shifflett, and Water Rescue Chief John Lye met with Rose and another engineer and worked out a tentative plan to address the most critical issues.

While still very much a “work in progress,” said Constantino, “we have been assured that emergency vehicles will be able to proceed through the construction area.” 

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