- Last Updated on 12:00 AM 11/19/10
- BY Sonny Riddle
“I have no regrets,” said Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) Residency Maintenance Manager Joseph D. “Joe” Barkley II, reflecting on his 42 years of service to the people of the commonwealth.
On Jan. 1, Barkley bids farewell to the state agency that hired him right out of college, the agency that introduced him to Halifax County, the place where he would make a home and raise his family.
A native of Lawrenceville and a graduate of Brunswick High School, Barkley entered Virginia Tech in the fall of 1964, graduating in 1968 with a B.S. in civil engineering.
“I came to work with VDOT on Sept. 1, 1968,” Barkley said. “At that time I was hired into the Engineer Training Program.”
Barkley worked in Christiansburg on the Interstate 81 project that went by Dixie Caverns. From there he went to the VDOT central office in Richmond, completing the training program.
“From there I went to Wytheville in 1971 as assistant resident engineer,” he explained. “Then I was promoted to this job Jan. 1, 1975 as resident engineer for Halifax and Charlotte counties.”
Of his 42 years with VDOT, 36 years have been spent in Halifax County. “We moved here in ’75 and kind of fell in love with the area, so I decided to stay here and raise our children who went through the school system, went on to college,” said Barkley.
“I think for the young people, if there are jobs here, it’s a good quality of life here,” he added. “And we’re going to remain here. You know, I only lived at home in Lawrenceville for 18 years, and I’ve been here 36,” Barkley said, laughing.
Barkley said his wife, Fay, has been retired from Halifax Regional Hospital for two and a half years. Their son, Dossie, and his wife have two children and live in Northern Virginia, and daughter Mary and her husband have three children and live in Virginia Beach.
Looking back on his 36 years in the Halifax Residency office, Barkley reflected upon a number of road and bridge projects that were completed or begun under his watch.
“I’m very proud of the four-laning of Highway 58-East,” he said. “And also the four-laning of 501-South, that was a very needed job. We were trying to beat North Carolina to the state line,” he added, laughing.
“The John Randolph Bridge project was on the board in 1975,” he said. “That project underwent several design changes and finally was completed a few years ago.”
Barkley said the Broad Street extension project in South Boston was during his tenure, in addition to the Hamilton Boulevard project. “That used to be called Cavalier Boulevard, with the first phase running from 501 to North Main,” Barkley explained. “The second phase of that project ran from North Main down to Ernie’s Restaurant (Route 360).
“Another important project was the Centerville project,” he said. “That project involved multi-laning 501 (Halifax Road) and removing the median from the 129 (Old Halifax Road) intersection to 654 (Sinai Road).”
Barkley said the safety improvement project in Volens helped with traffic flow, as did the new bridge construction from 2006 to 2007 in the eastbound lane of Highway 58 in Leggetts Bottom.
Barkley cited a number of secondary projects, such as Route 617, Route 658 in Cluster Springs, Route 744 at the southern Centerville at the former Cole’s Store, Kings Village Trail rural addition and the replacement of the bridge on Route 96. He also recalled the years-long fight to restore the Clarkton Bridge. “That was a joint effort between VDOT and the community,” he said.
The historic Clarkton Bridge was scheduled for demolition 2001-2003. The Virginia Secretary of Transportation granted a last chance reprieve for the bridge in 2003. In the fall of 2005 the bridge was reopened to the public.
Barkley said he was lucky to have been associated with such dedicated employees as those at VDOT, citing the 1998 Commonwealth Award for Excellence. “Our employees were very dedicated to their jobs, especially in adverse conditions,” he said. “It’s just an excellent work force, and anything I’ve done has been due to the effort of those who did it.”
The residency maintenance manager said he has given his final report to the board of supervisors. “I introduced the new liaison officer, Jorg Huckabee-Mayfield, to the supervisors and town council members at the joint meeting last Monday,” he said. “It’s been a pleasure working with elected officials and also working with the press.
Barkley, who is the longest serving resident engineer in the state, concluded by saying, “It’s been a very rewarding experience, especially working with dedicated men and women who take pride in their jobs and doing them safely. I have no regrets.”