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First phase of I-81 improvement study nears completion

(WHSV)
Published: Jul. 31, 2018 at 6:34 PM EDT
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The first stage of a study to identify improvements needed for Interstate 81 in Virginia will wrap up on Friday, Aug. 6.

Public meetings were held in June by the Virginia Department of Transportation, and the agency has accepted comments through email — at VA81CorridorPlan@OIPI.Virginia.gov.

Approximately 700 comments have been made both online and in-person during phase one of the study, according VDOT, and they have extended the comment period from July 31 to Aug. 6.

The meetings were focused on identifying specific issues, including the frequency and severity of crashes and the length of delays.

The study was directed by a bill during this year's General Assembly session spearheaded by Sen. Mark Obenshain (R-Va. 26).

"Unfortunately there never really was much of an appetite at various levels to really be active in fixing the I-81 problem," said Del. Tony Wilt (R-Va. 26). "But I think we're at critical mass now."

The Rockingham County delegate is fully aware of issues along the interstate, after serving in the General Assembly for more than a decade.

Wilt said he is interested in what results the survey produces.

"Points just not very far north down through Weyers Cave, into Augusta County," he said. "Why are there so many accidents there in the recent past? I think that might be something interesting to find out."

A second round of public meetings will be announced later this week, according to a VDOT spokesperson, which will be focused on targeted solutions and potential funding sources.

The state agency will present a list of final recommendations to lawmakers in December.