Preliminary work on Harrisonburg road improvement will temporarily close exit ramp

The Interstate 81 North off ramp at Port Republic Road will be realigned with Forest Hill Road (above) this summer. Preliminary work will require the off ramp to be closed from March 9 to 11. | Photo: City of Harrisonburg
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) — Drivers who regularly use Exit 245 on the northbound side of Interstate 81 in Harrisonburg should plan for a detour for several days in March.

From Monday, March 9, to Wednesday, March 11, crews will close northbound Exit 245, which takes drivers to Port Republic Rd., for preparation for a realignment of the current northbound exit ramp.

The city of Harrisonburg says crews will be conducting infrastructure work needed for the realignment, which is under construction with plans for completion in the summer.

The exit ramp closure was deliberately scheduled to coincide with James Madison University’s spring break to cause as little traffic disruption as possible, with that exit's heavy use for JMU-bound traffic.

Both southbound exit ramps and the northbound on-ramp will remain open.

During the closure, drivers will be guided by signs to use Exit 247 for East Market St. instead. Notices have already been posted along I-81 North and detour signs will be placed at the exits.

The city says drivers may also experience temporary lane closures on Port Republic and Forest Hill roads during the March 9-11 closures.

Once the ramp realignment is complete, the northbound off-ramp will align with Forest Hill Road to make the intersection with Port Republic Rd., the exit ramp, and Forest Hill Rd. safer for drivers exiting the interstate and trying to access Forest Hill Rd.

The project will also relocate the James Madison University R-10 and R-11 parking lot entrance to Hunters Road, and the university has provided city crews all need right-of-way and easements for the project at no cost to the city.

Harrisonburg was awarded a Virginia Department of Transportation Smart Scale grant for the realignment.