VDOT says design work is now under way to widen more than five miles of I-81 between the Wildwood Road and Electric Road exits — and the work itself should begin by early next year. This will be the first widening project specifically funded by the Interstate 81 Corridor Improvement Program, which was established two years ago to increase capacity and improve safety along the highway’s busiest and most accident-prone stretches. It is separate from the widening already in progress between Electric Road and I-581. WFIRE’s Evan Jones has more:
NEWS RELEASE: SALEM, Va. – In April, the Commonwealth Transportation Board awarded a design-build contract valued at $179 million to Archer Western Construction, LLC of Herndon to widen northbound and southbound Interstate 81 to three lanes from mile marker 136.6 to mile marker 141.8 in Roanoke County and the city of Salem.
The project, the first widening project of the Interstate 81 Corridor Improvement Program, is intended to increase capacity, lower crash rates, lessen delays, improve safety and enhance crash clearance times. The project design is still being completed, and construction is expected to begin in late 2021 or early 2022.
The I-81 Corridor Improvement Program was approved by the Commonwealth Transportation Board in December 2018. The more than $2 billion package of targeted improvements was funded by the Virginia General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. Ralph Northam in spring 2019.
“While many I-81 Corridor Improvement Program projects have already been delivered or are underway, this project is by far the largest to go to construction,” said I-81 Program Delivery Director Dave Covington. “We are excited about the partnership with the Archer Western team and look forward to this section of I-81 being safer, less congested and more reliable than it is today.”
The new lanes will be built at locations along I-81’s right and left shoulders. The project also includes replacing six bridges, widening two bridges and installing approximately 2.6 miles of sound barrier walls along northbound I-81. Improving the southbound exit 137 off ramp intersection at Wildwood Road and adding interchange lighting at exits 137, 140 and 141 are also included in the project.
VDOT has produced a podcast and video to provide more information about the widening project between exits 137 and 141. These can be found on the News & Multimedia page of Improve81.org.
Additional information about the I-81 Corridor Improvement Program is available at Improve81.org. The website includes interactive maps and schedules and details about upcoming and current projects that are designed to improve safety, increase reliability and foster economic growth along the 325-mile corridor.