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Author Topic: VA I-81 Corridor Improvement Plan  (Read 83199 times)

74/171FAN

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Re: Virginia
« Reply #400 on: January 26, 2023, 05:47:44 AM »

Maybe old news....just showed up in my news feed:  VDoT will put out to bid in the fall widening I-81 to 6 lanes Exits 7-10

https://improve81.org/program-overview/interactive-corridor-map/bristol.asp

Yeah, that is accurate considering that construction us to start in March 2024.
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froggie

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Re: Re: Virginia
« Reply #401 on: January 26, 2023, 07:58:14 AM »

Maybe old news....just showed up in my news feed:  VDoT will put out to bid in the fall widening I-81 to 6 lanes Exits 7-10

https://improve81.org/program-overview/interactive-corridor-map/bristol.asp

Yeah, that is accurate considering that construction us to start in March 2024.

Worth noting that is southbound widening only, not northbound.  So not a full 6 lanes.
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VTGoose

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Re: Re: Virginia
« Reply #402 on: January 26, 2023, 10:41:23 AM »

Maybe old news....just showed up in my news feed:  VDoT will put out to bid in the fall widening I-81 to 6 lanes Exits 7-10

Surveyors have been out and about on the section of I-81 from Salem exit 137 (current end of the widening project) to exit 118 at Christiansburg to get something on paper, although it will be a few years before that section get attention. Even if they only do spot widening it would be an improvement -- such as northbound between Ironto to just beyond Dixie Caverns to take care of some grades that slow down trucks through there. Northbound from Christiansburg to Ironto would also benefit from an additional lane since an crash in that section can tie up traffic for hours since there is no place to go.

Bruce in Blacksburg
 
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sprjus4

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Re: Re: Virginia
« Reply #403 on: January 26, 2023, 11:40:19 AM »

Maybe old news....just showed up in my news feed:  VDoT will put out to bid in the fall widening I-81 to 6 lanes Exits 7-10

https://improve81.org/program-overview/interactive-corridor-map/bristol.asp

Yeah, that is accurate considering that construction us to start in March 2024.

Worth noting that is southbound widening only, not northbound.  So not a full 6 lanes.
Which I still don’t understand, why not just do both directions at once and get it done. How much more money would it truly add? Especially if at some later date, they go back and do it again.
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Jmiles32

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Re: Re: Virginia
« Reply #404 on: January 26, 2023, 12:39:11 PM »

Maybe old news....just showed up in my news feed:  VDoT will put out to bid in the fall widening I-81 to 6 lanes Exits 7-10

https://improve81.org/program-overview/interactive-corridor-map/bristol.asp

Yeah, that is accurate considering that construction us to start in March 2024.

Worth noting that is southbound widening only, not northbound.  So not a full 6 lanes.
Which I still don’t understand, why not just do both directions at once and get it done. How much more money would it truly add? Especially if at some later date, they go back and do it again.

While not all the way to exit 10, the northbound lanes will be widened by about a mile up to the bridge over Old Dominion Road. While I don't have a problem with widening in only one direction here, I was surprised that widening southbound between Exit 137 and 128 was not included in the original package. Clearly, the Roanoke region sees the need to upgrade this portion as that project (with an estimated $300 million dollar price tag) was unsurprisingly not recommended for funding in the latest smart scale funding scenario. Hopefully, there will be another I-81 corridor improvement plan when this one wraps up as there are still many unfunded upgrades needed.
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Jmiles32

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Re: VA I-81 Corridor Improvement Plan
« Reply #405 on: January 26, 2023, 12:48:59 PM »

For the upcoming I-81 widening project near Staunton, does anyone have any idea why the northbound widening is planned to start at only the US-250 on-ramp? Would it not make more sense to instead have it start using the existing I-64 merge lane that currently ends right before the US-250 on-ramp? My guess is that maybe as a result VDOT would need to widen the northbound bridge over US-250 in order to have a longer deceleration lane but I'm not sure.
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74/171FAN

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Re: VA I-81 Corridor Improvement Plan
« Reply #406 on: January 26, 2023, 01:00:52 PM »

I moved the I-81 posts to the I-81 Corridor Improvement Thread Thread.   -Mark
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sprjus4

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Re: VA I-81 Corridor Improvement Plan
« Reply #407 on: January 26, 2023, 02:12:13 PM »

For the upcoming I-81 widening project near Staunton, does anyone have any idea why the northbound widening is planned to start at only the US-250 on-ramp? Would it not make more sense to instead have it start using the existing I-64 merge lane that currently ends right before the US-250 on-ramp? My guess is that maybe as a result VDOT would need to widen the northbound bridge over US-250 in order to have a longer deceleration lane but I'm not sure.
I had actually asked them this question via Twitter back in 2021, and they didn’t really provide a helpful explanation.

https://twitter.com/vadotstaunton/status/1425085646562004996
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sprjus4

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Re: VA I-81 Corridor Improvement Plan
« Reply #408 on: January 26, 2023, 02:14:14 PM »

Regarding Roanoke, any chance VDOT will finally restore the original 65 mph speed limit once all the widening projects between Exits 137 and 150 are complete?

The 60 mph limit that was implemented 20 years ago still proves ineffective, traffic is routinely traveling 75-80 mph through there, not much slower than on the 70 mph portion just north, and the highway can easily handle. With an expanded 6 lane design and full shoulders, there’s zero reason to retain 60 mph.

The small 2 mile 6 lane portion just south of I-581 that was just constructed anecdotally flows even faster than the 4 lane portions, especially as cars speed ahead to get around slower trucks.

The only 60 mph portion that makes sense is the active work zone, which I’m pleasantly surprised they didn’t lower to 55 mph.
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froggie

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Re: VA I-81 Corridor Improvement Plan
« Reply #409 on: January 26, 2023, 09:07:57 PM »

Maybe old news....just showed up in my news feed:  VDoT will put out to bid in the fall widening I-81 to 6 lanes Exits 7-10

https://improve81.org/program-overview/interactive-corridor-map/bristol.asp

Yeah, that is accurate considering that construction us to start in March 2024.

Worth noting that is southbound widening only, not northbound.  So not a full 6 lanes.
Which I still don’t understand, why not just do both directions at once and get it done. How much more money would it truly add? Especially if at some later date, they go back and do it again.

Finite money, which they're trying to spread around to get to as much as possible along the corridor.  And clearly VDOT thinks southbound is a worse problem on that stretch than northbound.
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sprjus4

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Re: VA I-81 Corridor Improvement Plan
« Reply #410 on: January 26, 2023, 09:41:21 PM »

My thing is that VDOT is taking out bonds and loans to fund these projects, to be repaid through the increased gas taxes on the I-81 corridor.

So would taking out another $100 million in bonds, of the billions they’re already doing, to provide a full 6 lane design in this segment, make much of a difference?

It’s not like current finite money is being used.
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Mapmikey

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Re: VA I-81 Corridor Improvement Plan
« Reply #411 on: June 18, 2023, 09:44:13 AM »

The 2024-29 SYIP removed adding a 3rd lane NB from MM 116 to MM 128, essentially the Christiansburg Mtn descent.

See pdf pg. 164 here - https://www.ctb.virginia.gov/resources/2023/june/ctb_workshop_meeting_june_20_2023.pdf
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Thing 342

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Re: VA I-81 Corridor Improvement Plan
« Reply #412 on: June 18, 2023, 10:14:19 AM »

The 2024-29 SYIP removed adding a 3rd lane NB from MM 116 to MM 128, essentially the Christiansburg Mtn descent.

See pdf pg. 164 here - https://www.ctb.virginia.gov/resources/2023/june/ctb_workshop_meeting_june_20_2023.pdf
Ooof, this sucks. That section is near-undriveable on fall weekends. VT continues to quickly expand under its current master plan so it's only going to get worse.

I wish they had focused the money for this project on overhauling the major problem areas creating bottlenecks rather than spread it thinly over the entire corridor.
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Rothman

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Re: VA I-81 Corridor Improvement Plan
« Reply #413 on: June 18, 2023, 10:52:43 AM »

VDOT needs to take a page from NYSDOT in public capital program management.  In NY, outright removals without at least stating what is planned outside the STIP period are rare.  Gives the impression that the project won't be done at all.
« Last Edit: June 18, 2023, 08:01:50 PM by Rothman »
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Jmiles32

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Re: VA I-81 Corridor Improvement Plan
« Reply #414 on: June 18, 2023, 06:56:57 PM »

The 2024-29 SYIP removed adding a 3rd lane NB from MM 116 to MM 128, essentially the Christiansburg Mtn descent.

See pdf pg. 164 here - https://www.ctb.virginia.gov/resources/2023/june/ctb_workshop_meeting_june_20_2023.pdf

Jeez this sorely needed project was already supposed to take all the way until June 2033. I assume this now pushes that completion date back even further? I also noticed that Salem has repeatedly been requesting smart scale funding for widening the remaining two lane gap that will exist on I-81 southbound between exits 136 and 128 (an over $350 million dollar price tag which of course means it will never score well). Ultimately if this removal from the 2024-2029 SYIP is any indicator, its going to be a long time before anything else on I-81 gets done unless new funding is identified. The I-81 Improvement Plan is a good start but there is still much more that needs to be done. Really shows how neglected the road was for so long.
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sprjus4

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Re: VA I-81 Corridor Improvement Plan
« Reply #415 on: June 18, 2023, 09:01:59 PM »

The 2024-29 SYIP removed adding a 3rd lane NB from MM 116 to MM 128, essentially the Christiansburg Mtn descent.

See pdf pg. 164 here - https://www.ctb.virginia.gov/resources/2023/june/ctb_workshop_meeting_june_20_2023.pdf
This is, without question, the most needed section of I-81 that needs to be expanded to 3 lanes. It is a bottleneck, often times with trucks in both lanes climbing at 40-50 mph, dangerous speeds (downhill) and maneuvers for such a narrow cross-section, and carries heavier traffic overall than the rest of I-81.

The entire section between US-460 in Christiansburg and US-220 Alt north of Roanoke needs to be six lanes minimum, if not eight lanes in some areas.

If they’re truly removing this, that is a joke on VDOT’s part and shows that priorities are misplaced. This part should have been widened 20 years ago (with the 6-8 lane statewide P3 toll road) and in many states it already would have been done. The fact VDOT is continuing to push I-81 widening off even more is ridiculous. I’m willing to bet I-81 will still be 4 lanes in 20 more years at this rate, just between Christiansburg and Roanoke alone, not to mention the rest of the state.

The state is pushing almost a billion dollars over the next few years to widen I-64 between Williamsburg and Bottoms Bridge to six lanes, and they can’t pursue any money toward I-81 widening? The project was to be funded through loans… take out a loan for the money, widen the highway, and repay the loan using the increased fuel taxes along the corridor, like was supposed to be originally done. Instead, they increased taxes to give us six years of a dangerous construction zone in Roanoke to get a total of 4 miles of widened highway… fun stuff Virginia.
« Last Edit: June 18, 2023, 09:05:04 PM by sprjus4 »
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VTGoose

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Re: VA I-81 Corridor Improvement Plan
« Reply #416 on: June 19, 2023, 03:29:49 PM »

The 2024-29 SYIP removed adding a 3rd lane NB from MM 116 to MM 128, essentially the Christiansburg Mtn descent.

See pdf pg. 164 here - https://www.ctb.virginia.gov/resources/2023/june/ctb_workshop_meeting_june_20_2023.pdf
This is, without question, the most needed section of I-81 that needs to be expanded to 3 lanes. It is a bottleneck, often times with trucks in both lanes climbing at 40-50 mph, dangerous speeds (downhill) and maneuvers for such a narrow cross-section, and carries heavier traffic overall than the rest of I-81.

Apparently no one of importance is looking at the crash history for this section of I-81. There is at least one a day somewhere along that section, with the really bad ones with multiple tractor trailers and cars stopping traffic for hours. Once committed to continue north at exit 118 A/B/C, there is no out until Dixie Caverns (Ironto is secondary, with a section of curvy two-lane road to reach U.S. 11/460). There are several uphill sections and downhill sections, including the long run down to the Ironto exit. It doesn't take much for a tractor trailer to hit a guardrail or head off into the median (caused by the driver alone or another vehicle). Even if the travel lanes aren't blocked by the wreck, at least one lane needs to be shut down for emergency vehicles and wreckers.

Saturday was a good example of what two lanes and lots of traffic does when there is a bad wreck. Just north of exit 137 (Salem) in the construction zone, a wreck stopped traffic in the southbound lane, probably around 1 p.m.-ish. We passed through there headed to Roanoke around 3 or so and it looked line one lane was open -- but traffic was backed up to I-581 and beyond. Not a great holiday weekend for a lot of travelers.

It will be interesting to see why this section of I-81 has been deemed less important and dropped on the list of improvements, and to see what is moved up ahead of it.

Bruce in Blacksburg
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ARMOURERERIC

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Re: VA I-81 Corridor Improvement Plan
« Reply #417 on: June 19, 2023, 05:48:18 PM »

Any chance there is an environmental issue that is being kept secret.
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Rothman

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Re: VA I-81 Corridor Improvement Plan
« Reply #418 on: June 19, 2023, 05:55:22 PM »

Any chance there is an environmental issue that is being kept secret.
No.
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froggie

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Re: VA I-81 Corridor Improvement Plan
« Reply #419 on: June 19, 2023, 10:24:14 PM »

It will be interesting to see why this section of I-81 has been deemed less important and dropped on the list of improvements, and to see what is moved up ahead of it.

The CTB presentation suggests there isn't enough funding to "complete the project in the six-year plan timeframe".  That indicates to me that inflation/cost increases caused the push.
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bluecountry

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Re: VA I-81 Corridor Improvement Plan
« Reply #420 on: June 26, 2023, 12:58:22 PM »

The 2024-29 SYIP removed adding a 3rd lane NB from MM 116 to MM 128, essentially the Christiansburg Mtn descent.

See pdf pg. 164 here - https://www.ctb.virginia.gov/resources/2023/june/ctb_workshop_meeting_june_20_2023.pdf
This is, without question, the most needed section of I-81 that needs to be expanded to 3 lanes. It is a bottleneck, often times with trucks in both lanes climbing at 40-50 mph, dangerous speeds (downhill) and maneuvers for such a narrow cross-section, and carries heavier traffic overall than the rest of I-81.

The entire section between US-460 in Christiansburg and US-220 Alt north of Roanoke needs to be six lanes minimum, if not eight lanes in some areas.

If they’re truly removing this, that is a joke on VDOT’s part and shows that priorities are misplaced. This part should have been widened 20 years ago (with the 6-8 lane statewide P3 toll road) and in many states it already would have been done. The fact VDOT is continuing to push I-81 widening off even more is ridiculous. I’m willing to bet I-81 will still be 4 lanes in 20 more years at this rate, just between Christiansburg and Roanoke alone, not to mention the rest of the state.

The state is pushing almost a billion dollars over the next few years to widen I-64 between Williamsburg and Bottoms Bridge to six lanes, and they can’t pursue any money toward I-81 widening? The project was to be funded through loans… take out a loan for the money, widen the highway, and repay the loan using the increased fuel taxes along the corridor, like was supposed to be originally done. Instead, they increased taxes to give us six years of a dangerous construction zone in Roanoke to get a total of 4 miles of widened highway… fun stuff Virginia.
Correct, because I-64 (like I-95) are areas of much greater priority, as they should be.
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sprjus4

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Re: VA I-81 Corridor Improvement Plan
« Reply #421 on: June 26, 2023, 01:14:02 PM »

The 2024-29 SYIP removed adding a 3rd lane NB from MM 116 to MM 128, essentially the Christiansburg Mtn descent.

See pdf pg. 164 here - https://www.ctb.virginia.gov/resources/2023/june/ctb_workshop_meeting_june_20_2023.pdf
This is, without question, the most needed section of I-81 that needs to be expanded to 3 lanes. It is a bottleneck, often times with trucks in both lanes climbing at 40-50 mph, dangerous speeds (downhill) and maneuvers for such a narrow cross-section, and carries heavier traffic overall than the rest of I-81.

The entire section between US-460 in Christiansburg and US-220 Alt north of Roanoke needs to be six lanes minimum, if not eight lanes in some areas.

If they’re truly removing this, that is a joke on VDOT’s part and shows that priorities are misplaced. This part should have been widened 20 years ago (with the 6-8 lane statewide P3 toll road) and in many states it already would have been done. The fact VDOT is continuing to push I-81 widening off even more is ridiculous. I’m willing to bet I-81 will still be 4 lanes in 20 more years at this rate, just between Christiansburg and Roanoke alone, not to mention the rest of the state.

The state is pushing almost a billion dollars over the next few years to widen I-64 between Williamsburg and Bottoms Bridge to six lanes, and they can’t pursue any money toward I-81 widening? The project was to be funded through loans… take out a loan for the money, widen the highway, and repay the loan using the increased fuel taxes along the corridor, like was supposed to be originally done. Instead, they increased taxes to give us six years of a dangerous construction zone in Roanoke to get a total of 4 miles of widened highway… fun stuff Virginia.
Correct, because I-64 (like I-95) are areas of much greater priority, as they should be.
I-81 between Christiansburg and Roanoke is a high priority, I would argue, on a similar scale to I-64. The segment carries over 50,000 AADT, 25% truck traffic, and the specific portion between Christiansburg and Ironto has major safety issues with narrow shoulders (left), uphill portions which cause walls of trucks moving at 30-40 mph, and then downhill portions that causes all traffic to move 80+ mph approaching sharper corners. It’s a dangerous portion of highway and is congested. The portion closer to Roanoke has over 60,000 AADT and is congested during peak hours on a daily basis.

I’m not talking about the rest of I-81 here (although it does need to be widened as well). I’m specifically referring to Christiansburg -> Roanoke. It has recurring congestion issues, major safety issues, and seemingly has a major wreck on a daily or weekly basis.

I-64, comparably, has 60,000 AADT and doesn’t have nearly as much of a safety problem due to it being flat. It also doesn’t have the high truck percentages. It’s a priority due to congestion, and is getting addressed finally, but that does not discount I-81. It’s deserving of a minimum of 6 lanes in that ~30 mile stretch, if not 8 lanes.

Southbound was widened around 10 years ago to three lanes, and portions near Roanoke are being widened. Its time northbound is complete over the mountain, and the gap up to Roanoke, along with north of I-581 up to US-220 Alt, is complete to 6 lanes, on the basis of both safety and congestion.
« Last Edit: June 26, 2023, 01:16:58 PM by sprjus4 »
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bluecountry

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Re: VA I-81 Corridor Improvement Plan
« Reply #422 on: June 26, 2023, 01:31:56 PM »

64 serves to connect the 2nd and 3rd largest metro areas in the state AND major beach traffic; it is part of the southern extension of Acela corridor.  I think that gives it priority; especially as a hurricane evacuation route.
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sprjus4

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Re: VA I-81 Corridor Improvement Plan
« Reply #423 on: June 26, 2023, 02:15:18 PM »

64 serves to connect the 2nd and 3rd largest metro areas in the state AND major beach traffic; it is part of the southern extension of Acela corridor.  I think that gives it priority; especially as a hurricane evacuation route.
I never said it wasn’t a priority… I’m fully in support of I-64 widening and it is sorely needed.
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Viridiscalculus

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Re: VA I-81 Corridor Improvement Plan
« Reply #424 on: June 26, 2023, 09:06:58 PM »

64 serves to connect the 2nd and 3rd largest metro areas in the state AND major beach traffic; it is part of the southern extension of Acela corridor.  I think that gives it priority; especially as a hurricane evacuation route.
I will believe the Acela when the Richmond—Newport News rail line is electrified around 2146. Until then, yes, 98% of people are going to drive I-64 rather than trying to get on one of two trains per day.
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