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Thousands of interstate maintenance workers lose jobs

Thousands of interstate maintenance workers lose jobs
Posted at 5:37 PM, Oct 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-28 10:10:26-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- About 2,000 employees for a VDOT subcontractor learned last Friday that they no longer had jobs.

The company, known as DBI, maintained the interstates and rest stops. Now, many are left with a lot of unanswered questions. Some of those who were let go appear to be working with a new company.

"As of 5 p.m. Friday, DBI services went out of business and told all employees that we no longer had jobs," Dennis Walters, a former DBI employee, said.

DBI is responsible for things like repairing potholes, damaged signs and guard rails, closing lanes during accidents and taking care of drainage ditches and trees.

They are also responsible for taking care of rest areas along the interstates.

"Ok, it's absolutely crucial. I mean, we need the flexibility to stop for almost any reason you could think of with a one-year-old and a three-year-old and you just never know when it's going to happen so having options like this are really helpful," Jeff Tolbert, a father who stopped at a rest stop, said.

If the DBI shut down and forced rest areas to close, many would consider it a major inconvenience.

"We're ablate come into the bathroom and change our one-year-old and let our three-year-old run around safely, that wouldn't be in a gas station or a drive-thru for a restaurant.

"VDOT has stepped up and insured all the employees across the state are going to work and the rest areas are going to remain open and everybody is going to get paid," Walters said.

Some subcontractors with DBI are now stuck with money concerns. One said that they could lose their business if the money they are owed by DBI doesn't come soon.

Former employees on the maintenance side said that they haven't been contacted by anyone offering them to come back to work.

VDOT shared the following statement about DBI going out of business:

On Friday, Oct. 22, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) was alerted about the possible dissolution of a service contracting company with scopes of work spanning across the Commonwealth, including services such as incident response and management, rest area maintenance, and bridge tender operations. As is always the case, the safety of those traveling our roadways is paramount. VDOT reached out to the company seeking confirmation of this information as the agency has not received official correspondence about the company’s closure. The agency has not received a response. VDOT has taken steps to protect its assets and maintain continuity of services for the traveling public. Additionally, VDOT is taking all necessary actions to protect the Commonwealth’s contractual interests. Contingency plans are currently underway to sustain roadway services and operations throughout the Commonwealth. VDOT will ensure there will be no lapse in these services as the agency has reallocated statewide forces to cover these needs immediately. The agency is also working to bring in other contractors to ensure all services are in place. Isolated issues could arise such as delays and we ask for patience as we navigate through this unfolding situation. Should travelers encounter concerns or service interruptions, please contact the VDOT Customer Service Center at 800-FOR-ROAD (800-367-7623) or https://my.vdot.virginia.gov/ [my.vdot.virginia.gov].

DBI released the following statement:

October 25, 2021

DBi Services today confirmed that due to continued operating and financial challenges, and sudden and unexpected setbacks, particularly the decision of its primary lender to discontinue all funding, the Company determined that a wind down of substantially all of its business is necessary at this time.

Macroeconomic forces as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, including supply chain disruptions, higher material costs and the labor shortage, coupled with increased financial requirements from sureties and lenders, impeded the Company’s ability to successfully execute and finance its projects.

The Company explored every viable alternative to avoid this outcome, working together with its outside advisors, investors, lenders and sureties to try to identify a resolution to address the issues at hand and enable the Company to move forward. The Company’s Digital Traffic Systems, Inc. subsidiary, which has not experienced the same challenges, is continuing to operate and serve customers.

DBi Services deeply regrets the impact on its valued employees, customers, suppliers and partners, and is working diligently to manage as smooth a transition as possible.