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VDOT to hold more public feedback sessions on improving Interstate 81

(WHSV)
Published: Aug. 1, 2018 at 4:41 PM EDT
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Earlier this summer, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) held

for local lawmakers and community members to weigh in on possible solutions for problems along Interstate 81 in Virginia.

The meetings, held in Strasburg, Weyers Cave, Abingdon, and Roanoke, focused on identifying specific issues, including the frequency and severity of crashes and the length of delays.

Now, they're again looking for the public's help to move forward with a study of the interstate.

A second round of meetings will focus on potential improvements and revenue sources.

This is a result of a bill passed by the General Assembly

, proposed by local Sen. Mark Obenshain.

Stage 1 of the plan implemented by that bill was

; stage 2, beginning now, will study possible revenue sources, including truck-only tolls, to help raise money to fix I-81.

, widening the interstate would cost an estimated 10 to 15 million dollars for every mile of payment.

But the idea of tolls on heavy commercial vehicles has not sat well with many local trucking companies,

.

The bill was passed unanimously in the Virginia Senate and on an 85-3 vote in the House before being signed by Gov. Ralph Northam on April 4.

The Virginia Department of Transportation has reported a 12% increase in traffic on I-81 around Harrisonburg in the past five years, and delays have increased by 55%. But community and industry feedback will play a large part in VDOT's next decisions.

Again, two feedback sessions will be held in the Shenandoah Valley, with two farther south along the I-81 corridor in Virginia.

The first will be Monday, August 20, from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at Holiday Inn Bristol in Bristol.

The second will be Wednesday, August 22, from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at Lord Fairfax Community College in Middletown.

The third will be Thursday, August, 23, from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the Blue Ridge Community College Plecker Center for Continuing Education in Weyers Cave.

The fourth will be Tuesday, August 28, from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the Salem Civic Center in Salem.

If you can't make it to any of the meetings, you can also submit comments to VA81CorridorPlan@OIPI.Virginia.gov, through an online mapping tool

or by mail to 1401 E. Broad St., Richmond, Virginia 23219, or by phone at 804-786-2971.

The comment period for stage 2 will end on September 30. Comments for stage 1 are still being accepted until August 6.