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Author Topic: VA I-81 Corridor Improvement Plan  (Read 83205 times)

Jmiles32

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Re: VA I-81 Corridor Improvement Plan
« Reply #425 on: October 03, 2023, 02:50:33 PM »

The latest I-81 Corridor Finance Update was presented to the I-81 Advisory Committee yesterday in Lexington: https://improve81.org/documents/oct-2023-advisory-committee/i-81-finance-update-advisory-committee-fall-2023-final-acc100323pm.pdf

Thankfully, it looks like everything initially funded as part of the I-81 program is still on track to be completed by 2033. The extended financial outlook for the I-81 program was then presented (starting on page 11) where it looks like next five major capital improvement projects planned are:

1. Southbound widening between Exits 137 and 128 ($246-$308 million)
2. Northbound widening between MM 190 and Exit 195 ($111-$141 million)
3. Southbound widening between Exit 195 and MM 190 ($103-$130 million)
4. Northbound widening between Exits 298 and 300 ($53-$66 million)
5. Northbound/southbound realignment of S-curves in Botetourt at MM 167 ($159-$243 million)

I would generally agree with the planned projects on this list with the exception of #3. Is congestion on I-81/I-64 southbound in that area really that frequent? If it was up to me I would instead use that funding to start the I-81 northbound widening near Strasburg another two miles back at Exit 296 (US-48/VA-55) where if all goes according to plan for West Virginia, should be putting a lot more traffic on I-81 north towards I-66. Extending the Harrisonburg widening another two miles south to Exit 240 or completing the third northbound lane from Exit 221 (I-64) to Exit 222 (US-250) in Staunton would also be beneficial.

VDOT estimates that these projects could be completed by 2038 at an inflated cost of $1.5 billion.

Curious what others' thoughts are and if there were any big (or small) I-81 projects not included that they would like to see prioritized (perhaps additional projects in the Winchester area?).

I-81 Advisory Committee Page: https://improve81.org/advisory-committee-and-meetings/advisory-committee/default.asp
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rover

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Re: VA I-81 Corridor Improvement Plan
« Reply #426 on: October 20, 2023, 11:34:32 PM »

So will the widening have it where NB 81 at US48 becomes 2+2, with 2 thru lanes and 2 C/D to 66.
Then SB 81 at 300 likewise is 2+2?
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sprjus4

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Re: VA I-81 Corridor Improvement Plan
« Reply #427 on: October 21, 2023, 12:07:13 AM »

So will the widening have it where NB 81 at US48 becomes 2+2, with 2 thru lanes and 2 C/D to 66.
Then SB 81 at 300 likewise is 2+2?
I believe the widening near Strasburg will add a single southbound lane between I-66 and just south of US-48. There’s no C/D roadway setup.
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rover

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Re: VA I-81 Corridor Improvement Plan
« Reply #428 on: October 21, 2023, 09:54:11 AM »

So will the widening have it where NB 81 at US48 becomes 2+2, with 2 thru lanes and 2 C/D to 66.
Then SB 81 at 300 likewise is 2+2?
I believe the widening near Strasburg will add a single southbound lane between I-66 and just south of US-48. There’s no C/D roadway setup.
I guess a single lane is fine and a C/D is not needed SB or NB.
Will they at least add a NB lane too?
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sprjus4

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Re: VA I-81 Corridor Improvement Plan
« Reply #429 on: October 21, 2023, 10:57:33 AM »

So will the widening have it where NB 81 at US48 becomes 2+2, with 2 thru lanes and 2 C/D to 66.
Then SB 81 at 300 likewise is 2+2?
I believe the widening near Strasburg will add a single southbound lane between I-66 and just south of US-48. There’s no C/D roadway setup.
I guess a single lane is fine and a C/D is not needed SB or NB.
Will they at least add a NB lane too?
No - and that’s the whole problem with this “Corridor Improvement Plan”. It’s not really much of a corridor improvement, more like spot fixes in a few areas like a couple miles of widening here and there. The only real, significant improvement is the six lane widening between Christiansburg and Roanoke which is sorely needed. But the vast majority, probably 97% of the rest of I-81 in Virginia outside a few miles near Bristol, Staunton, Harrisonburg, Winchester, and a few climbing lanes, will remain 4 lanes with no improvement.

Also, another aspect of this project is “curve improvements”, particularly a few areas north of Roanoke that have 60 mph design speeds. It’s misleading… they added some flashing beacons. A true curve improvement would be realigning the highway’s geometry to safely accommodate a 70 mph design speed throughout. Obviously it’s more cost, but with the amount of truck traffic through that area and accidents that have occurred, it’s a necessary safety improvement.

The “Corridor Improvement Project” seems like a large investment at $2 billion, and while it is huge for the areas that will be widened, largely just Roanoke to Christiansburg, doesn’t bring much to the table at all for the areas outside of it, minus a few spot improvements.

The spot safety improvements and occasional climbing lane are helpful, but a much larger plan is needed, that makes a real effort towards true widening throughout the state.
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rover

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Re: VA I-81 Corridor Improvement Plan
« Reply #430 on: October 21, 2023, 07:46:24 PM »

I think for now, spot improvements and interchange updates at high volume areas (like I-66 and corridor H) is fine.
Making I-81 six lanes throughout is way down the list in terms of prioritization.
Heck I would argue any corridor wide widening should be tolled since it is long distance, out of state traffic.
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1995hoo

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Re: VA I-81 Corridor Improvement Plan
« Reply #431 on: October 21, 2023, 08:14:14 PM »

So what do you say should be at the top of the list in terms of prioritization?
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froggie

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Re: VA I-81 Corridor Improvement Plan
« Reply #432 on: October 21, 2023, 09:50:24 PM »

The spot safety improvements and occasional climbing lane are helpful, but a much larger plan is needed, that makes a real effort towards true widening throughout the state.

I'm not saying a "much larger plan" isn't needed (I agree that it is).  But short of either tolls (tried already along that corridor) or a major overhaul and increase in funding at both the state and Federal level (fat chance of that happening in THIS political climate), you're not going to be able to fund the level of improvement you're asking for.
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sprjus4

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Re: VA I-81 Corridor Improvement Plan
« Reply #433 on: October 21, 2023, 11:53:37 PM »

The spot safety improvements and occasional climbing lane are helpful, but a much larger plan is needed, that makes a real effort towards true widening throughout the state.

I'm not saying a "much larger plan" isn't needed (I agree that it is).  But short of either tolls (tried already along that corridor) or a major overhaul and increase in funding at both the state and Federal level (fat chance of that happening in THIS political climate), you're not going to be able to fund the level of improvement you're asking for.
My issue is the fact VDOT hasn’t even put any options or studies on the table to kickstart a major widening program. I would understand funding being a concern, but it seems outright they have zero interest to even do it to begin with.

I imagine there would be less opposition to tolling if a full-scale widening was in play. My issue with the original tolling proposal around 5 years ago was they planned to do it only to fund these small improvements for most of the corridor. If they’re going to charge tolls, they ought to provide notable changes for motorists throughout the corridor to make the tolls seem worth it.

The P3 option around 20 years ago that would’ve tolled the entire interstate and widened it to either 6 lanes in rural areas and 8 lanes in areas, or added 2 separate truck lanes each way, would’ve made a tremendous difference and be many years complete by now. That would’ve been the way to go, and they should have.
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VTGoose

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Re: VA I-81 Corridor Improvement Plan
« Reply #434 on: October 24, 2023, 12:34:05 PM »

My issue is the fact VDOT hasn’t even put any options or studies on the table to kickstart a major widening program. I would understand funding being a concern, but it seems outright they have zero interest to even do it to begin with.

I imagine there would be less opposition to tolling if a full-scale widening was in play. My issue with the original tolling proposal around 5 years ago was they planned to do it only to fund these small improvements for most of the corridor. If they’re going to charge tolls, they ought to provide notable changes for motorists throughout the corridor to make the tolls seem worth it.

There has long been recognition that I-81 is inadequate for the traffic it handles, especially truck traffic. There have also been discussions about the need to widen the highway from Bristol to Winchester. VDOT has done bits and pieces here and there over the years, but its total commitment to the whole highway is lacking.

It wasn't too long ago that a total replacement of bridges at exit 114 in Christiansburg was completed. But the new bridges that replaced the old bridges are still just two lanes. The project could have been designed with wide bridges that would accommodate three lanes whenever the widening project got to that point (although at the rate things are going, the new bridges will probably need to be replaced due to old age). Same goes for the bridge project over the New River -- the new spans are still just two lanes (although with a little extra funding, making the southbound side three lanes could have fed into a new, needed climbing lane from the end of the bridge for a mile or two).

I've not seen figures, but residents in counties that I-81 runs through or are considered "adjacent" enough to benefit were told that we would be paying an increased gas tax to fund improvements. A selling point was that it would hit out-of-state travelers who stopped for gas while traveling on the interstate. So far, this doesn't appear to have panned out like the politicians thought it would.
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ran4sh

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Re: VA I-81 Corridor Improvement Plan
« Reply #435 on: October 25, 2023, 03:33:58 AM »


I've not seen figures, but residents in counties that I-81 runs through or are considered "adjacent" enough to benefit were told that we would be paying an increased gas tax to fund improvements. A selling point was that it would hit out-of-state travelers who stopped for gas while traveling on the interstate. So far, this doesn't appear to have panned out like the politicians thought it would.


Yeah, I don't remember the last time I've fueled along I-81 in Virginia. The last few times I've used that route, I stopped for gas in Maryland and not Virginia.
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Strider

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Re: VA I-81 Corridor Improvement Plan
« Reply #436 on: October 25, 2023, 09:25:24 PM »

The spot safety improvements and occasional climbing lane are helpful, but a much larger plan is needed, that makes a real effort towards true widening throughout the state.

I'm not saying a "much larger plan" isn't needed (I agree that it is).  But short of either tolls (tried already along that corridor) or a major overhaul and increase in funding at both the state and Federal level (fat chance of that happening in THIS political climate), you're not going to be able to fund the level of improvement you're asking for.
My issue is the fact VDOT hasn’t even put any options or studies on the table to kickstart a major widening program. I would understand funding being a concern, but it seems outright they have zero interest to even do it to begin with.

I imagine there would be less opposition to tolling if a full-scale widening was in play. My issue with the original tolling proposal around 5 years ago was they planned to do it only to fund these small improvements for most of the corridor. If they’re going to charge tolls, they ought to provide notable changes for motorists throughout the corridor to make the tolls seem worth it.

The P3 option around 20 years ago that would’ve tolled the entire interstate and widened it to either 6 lanes in rural areas and 8 lanes in areas, or added 2 separate truck lanes each way, would’ve made a tremendous difference and be many years complete by now. That would’ve been the way to go, and they should have.

I have to agree. Seems like VDOT is more focused on funding the biggest cities (Northern VA, Norfolk area) and makes SWVA less priority except for I-81 widening. I don't know what politics is like up there, however it's just sad that SWVA is being the low priority despite being a part of VA. The same thing happens in every state.
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Mapmikey

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Re: VA I-81 Corridor Improvement Plan
« Reply #437 on: October 26, 2023, 07:28:38 AM »


The P3 option around 20 years ago that would’ve tolled the entire interstate and widened it to either 6 lanes in rural areas and 8 lanes in areas, or added 2 separate truck lanes each way, would’ve made a tremendous difference and be many years complete by now. That would’ve been the way to go, and they should have.

They were full steam ahead doing this until the P3 vendor backed out in 2008.

See this well-sourced Scott Kozel article

The P3 was unsolicited when it was initiated.  Which is a lesson regarding trying to upgrade the I-95 Express Lanes to bi-directional: If a project has a chance of being reasonably viable/profitable, a vendor will propose it to VDOT unsolicited.
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rover

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Re: VA I-81 Corridor Improvement Plan
« Reply #438 on: October 30, 2023, 10:21:20 PM »

So what do you say should be at the top of the list in terms of prioritization?
Statewide?

1.  Make I-95 HOT from Fredericksburg to I-495  Bi-directional (2+2 lanes from exit 133 to exit 144, 3+3 to exit 170).
2.  Make I-95 from I-295 to I-495 8 lanes (4+4) fixing any substandard curves and shoulder lanes AND from exit 156 to 160 add a C/D.
3.  Extend the I-66 auxiliary lane from RT 28 to PWC Parkway
        (at RT 15 3 lanes, at PWC 3+1 to 234, at 234 4 lanes with a C/D between 29 and 28).
4.  Fill in the I-64 gap and make the I-295SB to I-64EB interchange high speed.
5.  Make the I-64EB to I-264EB a high speed flyover
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sprjus4

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Re: VA I-81 Corridor Improvement Plan
« Reply #439 on: October 30, 2023, 10:56:41 PM »

make the I-295SB to I-64EB interchange high speed.
5.  Make the I-64EB to I-264EB a high speed flyover
These should be the top 4 and 5 priority projects in the entire state?
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cockroachking

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Re: VA I-81 Corridor Improvement Plan
« Reply #440 on: October 31, 2023, 12:19:18 AM »

make the I-295SB to I-64EB interchange high speed.
5.  Make the I-64EB to I-264EB a high speed flyover
These should be the top 4 and 5 priority projects in the entire state?
Heaven forbid VDOT cost someone 30 seconds on their 3 hour drive from DC to Virginia Beach...
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sprjus4

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Re: VA I-81 Corridor Improvement Plan
« Reply #441 on: October 31, 2023, 12:48:15 AM »

make the I-295SB to I-64EB interchange high speed.
5.  Make the I-64EB to I-264EB a high speed flyover
These should be the top 4 and 5 priority projects in the entire state?
Heaven forbid VDOT cost someone 30 seconds on their 3 hour drive from DC to Virginia Beach...
The I-264 ramp is actually going to be reconstructed in the future, VDOT has a study underway to completely overhaul and replace the massive I-264 interchange in Norfolk. But it certainly isn’t a top priority statewide. It will be a multi-phase project over the next couple of decades.

I’d argue widening the entirety of I-81 to six lanes in Virginia is a higher priority than the I-295 interchange though. Heck, we’d more likely see I-95 widened to six lanes between the NC border and Petersburg before that flyover is replaced.

I would like to see the lane striping on the I-64 C/D merge adjusted a bit, but certainly not a full bridge replacement.
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1995hoo

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Re: VA I-81 Corridor Improvement Plan
« Reply #442 on: October 31, 2023, 07:40:55 AM »

make the I-295SB to I-64EB interchange high speed.
5.  Make the I-64EB to I-264EB a high speed flyover
These should be the top 4 and 5 priority projects in the entire state?

I’m surprised he didn’t put removing the I-66 HO/T lanes at the top of his list, but maybe that would have been too obvious. The fact that he doesn’t list any I-81 improvements among his top five statewide priorities is a bit of a giveaway, though.
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