The Virginia Department of Transportation will hold a citizen information meeting on March 11, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. concerning proposed safety improvements to the Interstate 81 exit 247 interchange at Route 33 in Harrisonburg. The meeting will be held at the VDOT Harrisonburg Residency office located at 3536 North Valley Pike in Harrisonburg.
Citizens can come in during the meeting hours and discuss the project on a one-on-one basis with VDOT officials and designers. Written comments can be submitted at the meeting or within ten days after the meeting date to Mr. John-Allen Ennis, P.E., Project Manager, Virginia Department of Transportation, P.O. Box 2249, Staunton, VA 24402-2249. Oral comments can be recorded at the hearing with the assistance of a court reporter.
The proposed project will improve the traffic pattern at the I-81 and Route 33 interchange at exit 247 in Harrisonburg. The interchange was constructed in the late 1950s in a cloverleaf configuration. Currently the I-81 southbound side of the interchange is experiencing twice the number of accidents as the northbound side. With this interchange configuration, the right I-81 southbound lane services traffic both exiting and entering Route 33, creating a weaving traffic pattern. This conflict point in the right I-81 southbound lane is the location of many traffic accidents.
The improvements include removing the cloverleaf northwestern loop, which is the on-ramp for traffic entering I-81 from Route 33 westbound lanes. In its place a 350-foot left-turn lane will be constructed on Route 33 near the existing southwestern ramp. At this location a new crossover and traffic signal will be installed, which will allow Route 33 westbound traffic to turn left to access southbound I-81 using a new short connector to the current southwest ramp. Eastbound Route 33 traffic entering the southwestern ramp will yield to vehicles entering the ramp using the new connector.
Additionally, the deceleration lane for traffic leaving southbound I-81 for Route 33 west will be extended 200 feet with an additional 180-foot taper. This will provide motorists using this I-81 off ramp more time to reduce their speed and enhance safety.
The 2008 estimated project cost is $2,000,000, which includes preliminary engineering and construction. This cost estimate may change as the project plans are further developed. The project will be paid for using both federal and state funds.
This project is proposed to be constructed within the existing state owned right of way and will not require the relocation of any families, businesses or non-profit organizations.
The project is scheduled to be advertised for construction in fall 2008 with actual construction projected to begin in spring 2009.