Charles Fore


I've been here since 1973. I've been with the Department of Transportation since September of 1971. The other years I was at Big Walker Mountain Tunnel. I'm a maintenance supervisor. I supervise all the daily activities. I schedule all the work loads. I supervise all those. I come in at 6:30 in the morning and leave about this time in the day.(3:30 p.m.) Sometimes I get called back.A typical day... it's a twenty-four hour day so it never shuts down. We never have any sunshine or rain to stop us. We come in and check our equipment. We got various maintenance duties to do each day. We come in and check all our equipment and emergency equipment, and our wreckers. And that's basically it. Each shift has certain things to do. But that's basically a typical day. In 1973, 1 saw the final figures, and it was like $40 million dollars.That was a really high price at that time.Traffic. We had a lot of traffic and a lot of increases. When we first started we were getting like 1500 cars a day. Now it's averaging about 18,000 today. And on weekends, it's averaging about twenty-five to thirty thousand per day.Yeah, we've done . .we're in the middle of a renovation project that started in 1987.. .when we first started. We're getting some things together like the new lighting that you see.. .the new lighting that you see here, and the video equipment you see back here. There have been some modifications on this ventilation console.. .the message boards here are not quite functional yet.

The video monitors that I told you about. That's the biggest safety asset that we had it seems like. It's about $13 million dollars worth. Following this contract, there's going to be a structural contract and a contract on the high wall. There's going to be a contract later this year to replace the roof. It's twenty-one years old. It's like a house, only it's bigger. I like to compare this as a ship. You're always painting and doing stuff like that. We consider all accidents major, because it upsets the flow of traffic. I just went through our daily logs and got forty- two logs or so... fifty logs over twenty years. We done a count from all.. .We've had twenty-five tractor trailer accidents since I've been here. They done some major damage to the old lighting system. If you rode through here, you're familiar with the fluorescent lights and sometimes you would see a great big long string out because the tractor trailers hit the wall and done some major damage. It depends on where we're at in the buildings to how fast we can respond to an accident. we can get there in about four minutes. That's pretty quick. With the video monitors now we can get right on an accident within a matter o f minutes. Now the fire that we had in June, we responded to it pretty quick. We didn't have the capability...We had guy come out right here. A delivery truck came out. Well I sent the two men down, and I saw the delivery truck guy get out a fire extinguisher . I didn' t waste any time, and I called the fire department right then, because I knew it was a fire then. The engineer from town... in fact he had just left here. And the car came out and motioned down the tunnel. He thought it was a breakdown. That's normally how we know there's a breakdown. And he was giving me hand signals up here. So I got two people to go down there. And we found out later that it was a motor home and was burned before he came into the tunnel. I stayed up here because this board over here was gone. All this over here with the flashing lights.. .that's was just a blank space. In fact we had two pieces of plywood over it. We had to go out here and turn the ventilation on manually, and it took a few seconds.. .a matter of minutes. And you do things.. .I got a report on it where I wrote it up.

I wrote down things on what I did, on what I remembered. You do things that sometimes you don't remember what you do. We were very fortunate that nobody died. We had two people that went in there and got the traffic stopped. We were very fortunate. we live in an ideal location. We live like an eight hour drive from any major city on the east coast. We live like two hours away from Charlotte. No, I don't know if there's anything else I would like to add or not. We do try to make it safer for traveling folk. We are about ten years ahead of renovation work. Tunnels usually get renovated about every thirty years. We're about three years behind on this regular contract. It's a voluntary thing, because Virginia Is short of funds, so we're a little bit behind. All in all we try to make it safe for the traveling people. Things like the lighting system. some people say it is hard to get used to. But it's actually great because you can see a whole lot better once you get used to it. I've got some brochures on it that I can let you borrow and you can bring it back when you're done with them. I've got a whole folder that I can let you borrow.