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Author Topic: VA I-81 Corridor Improvement Plan  (Read 41723 times)

Jmiles32

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Re: VA I-81 Corridor Improvement Plan
« Reply #375 on: October 10, 2021, 10:18:10 PM »

Thanks to some recent travels up and down I-81 to/from Northern Virginia I've noticed that there are two problematic locations that probably should have been addressed/funded in the I-81 corridor improvement plan but were not. Both are in the northbound direction and result in delays frequently but especially on weekends. The first is near Lexington approaching the I-64 interchange (Exit 191). Here the traffic backups can and often do extend all the way to the US-60 interchange (Exit 188) and sometimes even further south. IMO I find this rather odd because while the I-64 interchange does result in a left lane on ramp merge, the traffic coming from I-64 is very light and seemingly wouldn't be enough to result in a miles long backup on I-81. Nevertheless that merge is clearly the culprit here.

The second is northbound approaching I-66 (Exit 300) near Strasburg. Here traffic usually starts backing up right before the US-48/VA-55 interchange (Exit 296) but can easily start further south as well. Now this one to me makes no sense and if someone here has a good guess as to the culprit please feel free to share. I don't think it has anything to do with the I-66 on ramp merge because traffic usually clears up right before the I-66 off ramp. I don't think it has anything to do with eastbound US-48 traffic either because traffic on that road is not that significant enough yet. Interesting too IMO that I-81 southbound between Exit 296 and Exit 300 is planned to be widened to 3 GP lanes but not northbound as right now I think the northbound backups on this stretch are far more frequent and arguably worse. Any thoughts?
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Rothman

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Re: VA I-81 Corridor Improvement Plan
« Reply #376 on: October 10, 2021, 11:58:32 PM »

Maybe congestion locations, but I don't know about full-blown backups there happening frequently.
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Jmiles32

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Re: VA I-81 Corridor Improvement Plan
« Reply #377 on: October 11, 2021, 12:22:26 AM »

I'd argue that based on experiences and google maps traffic view, back ups on northbound I-81 in both these of these locations is almost a given during the weekend afternoon/evening. Very similar situation to the notorious weekend northbound I-95 back up in Fredericksburg which IMO similarly did not make logical sense unlike southbound. Thankfully, even though it was usually only on weekends, that back up was bad enough to be addressed by funding the northbound rappahannock river crossing project. I suspect that fixing these northbound I-81 ones would not be nearly as expensive. Maybe just acceleration and deacceleration lane extensions as opposed to full on widening.
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froggie

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Re: VA I-81 Corridor Improvement Plan
« Reply #378 on: October 11, 2021, 01:14:04 AM »

81 northbound past Strasburg and up to 66 is on an uphill.  While the grade isn't steep, based on my own experience I would not be surprised if that uphill grade is a contributing factor.
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sprjus4

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Re: VA I-81 Corridor Improvement Plan
« Reply #379 on: October 11, 2021, 02:11:33 AM »

I’m not sure what it was, but I-81 North was busy between Roanoke and Staunton last Sunday. The volume of cars and trucks was heavy, and traffic was mostly moving 45-60 mph the whole way, very rarely reaching the 70 mph speed limit. The only “relief” was on the 6 lane segment north of Lexington where it opened up and everyone was filling all 3 lanes at 80+ mph, then right back down to 45-50 mph condensing to 2 lanes.

It really speaks for the need of a 6 lane statewide corridor. These spot improvements are a good start, I suppose, but VDOT really needs to be long term planning for full widening throughout.

Another “safety” project needs to be realigning the many 60 mph curves that often slows traffic, particularly when trucks are present in both lanes. Straighten them out and realign the highway where necessary to be able to maintain a minimum 70 mph design speed.
« Last Edit: October 11, 2021, 02:14:29 AM by sprjus4 »
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VTGoose

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Re: VA I-81 Corridor Improvement Plan
« Reply #380 on: October 11, 2021, 10:42:54 AM »

I’m not sure what it was, but I-81 North was busy between Roanoke and Staunton last Sunday. The volume of cars and trucks was heavy, and traffic was mostly moving 45-60 mph the whole way, very rarely reaching the 70 mph speed limit. The only “relief” was on the 6 lane segment north of Lexington where it opened up and everyone was filling all 3 lanes at 80+ mph, then right back down to 45-50 mph condensing to 2 lanes.

Sunday is typically a busier day on I-81 with trucks rolling from the south to the Northeast. Add in a home football game for Virginia Tech and you have Hokies heading home (although last weekend way a bye week).

Yesterday was a good example of the need for a third lane in each direction. My wife and I headed out Sunday just before noon for a "quick" trip to Roanoke. Just after getting on at exit 118, we were in a traffic slowdown. The message boards approaching 81 showed "Accident at MM 127 -- Right shoulder blocked" -- which didn't fit with the traffic backup. When we finally approached the accident, there were three vehicles sitting off the road on the LEFT but no other signs of a wreck. Traffic continued in clog mode on past the Ironto exit and further north. I jumped off at the first Salem exit (137) when I saw both lanes ahead jammed. On the way back to Blacksburg later in the afternoon, I bypassed Salem from I-581 to exit 137 to take the "back way" on U.S 11/460 to Christiansburg. At the connection to the Dixie Caverns exit, there was a long line of traffic waiting to turn left from 11 east. The heavy eastbound traffic continued all the way until we reached I-81 (and beyond) with traffic on the 81 overpass at a standstill. Another northbound wreck blocked both lanes; see https://facebook.com/MontgomeryCountyemergencyServices for photos of the tractor-trailer wreck that caused all the havoc.

On another note, the original plans for the improvements between I-581 and exit 141/VA 419 weren't quite accurate. The plans showed the southbound right lane becoming the exit ramp for exit 141 and the left entrance ramp from I-581 continuing as the left lane, which required through traffic to shift. In reality, the ramp from I-581 continues almost to exit 141 and there is no through lane shift since the existing exit ramp for VA 419 was lengthened. The whole of the 581 ramp isn't open yet, but there is a longer space to merge than before the work started. Since we bailed early, I don't know the status of the northbound lanes, but when done it will be a major improvement to separate traffic exiting to 581 from faster through traffic.

Bruce in Blacksburg
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odditude

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Re: VA I-81 Corridor Improvement Plan
« Reply #381 on: October 11, 2021, 04:22:20 PM »

I’m not sure what it was, but I-81 North was busy between Roanoke and Staunton last Sunday. The volume of cars and trucks was heavy, and traffic was mostly moving 45-60 mph the whole way, very rarely reaching the 70 mph speed limit. The only “relief” was on the 6 lane segment north of Lexington where it opened up and everyone was filling all 3 lanes at 80+ mph, then right back down to 45-50 mph condensing to 2 lanes.

Sunday is typically a busier day on I-81 with trucks rolling from the south to the Northeast. Add in a home football game for Virginia Tech and you have Hokies heading home (although last weekend way a bye week).


i believe this past weekend was homecoming for JMU (in Harrisonburg), as well.
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