At the Montgomery County chamber’s monthly “Eggs and Issues”, Thomas DiGiulian with the VDOT Salem District spoke to an early morning group about transportation in the New River Valley. While he spoke on a number of topics, it seems timely to share with you readers the status of some higher profile projects happening in the area as students head back to school and we see the last of summer’s lighter schedule.
If you’ve traveled I-81 across the New River bridge just past the Radford exit, you couldn’t help but see the evidence of construction. Construction crews are working on the abutments for a new northbound bridge to replace the current one. We learned to expect a construction zone until 2020 when the work will be completed. A southbound bridge replacement won’t be built – that one is still is good repair.
The Exit 118 park and ride (which replaced the Falling Branch lot) is nearly complete. It’s already up and running with more parking spots than the original and the temporary lots! You can catch the Christiansburg Explorer and the Smartway bus here. We also learned the Exit 140 lot (for those of you commuting from Salem) will also be fully operational this fall. We’re glad to see these lots expanded, not just because they were over capacity and difficult to navigate with overflow parking, but because the additional spaces will give commuters a place to meet for carpools and transit with a reasonable expectation of finding a space for the day.
What you haven’t seen, but is going out for construction bidding this fall, is replacement of both bridges at I-81’s Exit 114 (the Route 8 exit). The project will replace aging bridges and improve sight distances at the exit ramps when turning onto Route 8.
The Southgate Connector on Route 460 will be opening in early 2018. Mr. DiGiulian indicated traffic will be shifted in the fall (after Tech’s football season is over!) and the project will be open in early 2018. One interesting feature of the project, which hasn’t been seen in our area yet, is the diverging diamond, though there is a one on I-64 at the Zion Crossroads exit. You can see simulations of the Southgate diverging diamond here.
If you want to follow these projects and others, go to VDOT’s project page for the Salem District for more information.