VDOT improvement project would create an auxiliary lane in Staunton area

Published: Jun. 23, 2021 at 6:31 PM EDT
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STAUNTON, Va. (WHSV) - VDOT plans to make improvements to I-81 south in the Staunton area by connecting the on-ramp at mile-marker 221 to the 220 exit.

This project would connect those two ramps with an auxiliary lane to create one continuous lane.

The lane would be .2 mile, but while it may be a relatively small footprint, VDOT says it will have a big impact on traffic.

“There’s a lot of traffic that’s coming right off and then having to get back on the very next exit, folks that are mixing because they’re coming on southbound 81 with folks trying to merge from 64. There’s a lot going on in a relatively short span on interstate,” Ken Slack, VDOT Spokesperson said.

VDOT says about one-third of vehicles that come off I-64 are taking that very next exit at 220, so a temporary third lane would help keep drivers from having to merge in and out of traffic.

“It’s going to create a lot fewer conflicts between vehicles and really smooth the traffic flow and improve safety there,” Slack said.

And with this improvement project would also come the replacement of the Barterbrook Rd. bridge that goes over I-81.

“That bridge, which was built originally when the interstate came in, does not have enough room in between the piers on either side of the bridge for a wider interstate,” Slack said.

VDOT expects impacts on travel during construction to be minor on I-81, but part of Barterbrook Rd. would be closed for about 18 months.

“Folks are going to have to follow a detour using Route 250 or Interstate 64. It’s probably going to add, on average, nine to 12 minutes to their trip,” Slack said.

VDOT is hoping to get the public’s input on the project and plans to finish up design work by the end of the summer and construction is expected to begin in 2023.

This project is part of the I-81 Corridor Improvement Program and would cost around $14 million.

Slack says projects like these are designed to blend in to any future improvement projects along I-81.

“This project is right next door to future widening on Interstate 81 on the northbound and southbound for the Staunton area,” Slack said. “We look at the big picture and see how these individual projects all work together and improve the experience for folks on 81 and make it more reliable, safer and a little bit less stressful.”

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