Interstate 81 North - Washington & Smythe Counties

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Interstate 81 north
Interstate 81 crosses the Virginia state line from Tennessee as a six lane freeway. Widening of the freeway at the city of Bristol occurred between 1998 and 1999. A welcome center resides between the state line and Exit 1 (U.S. 58 west & U.S. 421). Photo taken 05/31/07.
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Welcome to Virginia sign posted ahead of the rest area and tourist information center. Photo taken 05/31/07. Second photo taken 09/29/10.
One-half mile overhead of Exit 1 posted on Interstate 81 northbound. U.S. 58 & 421 enter the city of Bristol from Gate City (pop. 2,159) to the west. U.S. 58 eastbound merges onto the freeway for an 18-mile overlap to the city of Abington (pop. 7,780) at I-81. Photo taken 05/31/07.
Entering the rest area facility of Interstate 81 north at Bristol. Photo taken 05/31/07.
The first of many northbound reassurance shields posted for Interstate 81 along the 324.92-mile drive through Virginia. Photo taken 05/31/07.
Interstate 81 northbound at the departure of Exit 1 (Gate City Highway). U.S. 421 southbound continues into the city of Bristol (pop. 17,367) where the highway merges onto U.S. 11W (Euclid Avenue) en route to downtown. Photo taken 09/29/10.
A parclo interchange joins Interstate 81 with U.S. 58 & 421 (Gate City Highway). Photo taken 05/31/07.
Interstate 81 north & U.S. 58 east
Continuing northeast, Interstate 81 & U.S. 58 straddle the city of Bristol boundary with Washington County to Exit 5. Photo taken 05/31/07.
Abingdon, the Washington County seat, represents the next city of interest. Roanoke is the main control city of Interstate 81 south of Staunton. Photo taken 05/31/07.
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What was formerly posted on an overhead, is now a ground-level sign for the one-mile approach to Interstate 381. Interstate 381 constitutes a 1.67-mile spur into the city of Bristol from Exit 3 to the intersection of Commonwealth and Euclid Avenues. The freeway south connects with U.S. 11E & 19 for Bristol Motor Speedway and U.S. 11 & 19 north for Virginia Intermont College. Photo taken 08/24/03. Second photo taken 09/29/10.
Interstate 81 & U.S. 58 north, one half mile ahead of Interstate 381. I-381 carries four lanes southward to Keys Street and the transition to Commonwealth Avenue (unsigned Virginia 381). Commonwealth Avenue leads directly to the central business district and U.S. 11-11E-11W-19-421. Photo taken 09/29/10.
A tri-level stack interchange handles the movements between Interstate 81 & U.S. 58 and Interstate 381 at Exit 3. Euclid Avenue (U.S. 11 & 19) travels northeast from Commonwealth Avenue to Interstate 81 & U.S. 58 at the next interchange (Exit 5). U.S. 11E-19-421 south continue Commonwealth Avenue to Bristol, Tennessee. Photo taken 09/29/10.
Passing under the ramps to Interstate 381 on Interstate 81 north & U.S. 58 east. The freeway spur opened to traffic in 1962. Photo taken 05/31/07.
Turning eastward into Bristol, drivers next see a diamond interchange with U.S. 11 & 19 (Exit 5) at Lee Highway. Photo taken 05/31/07.
Long Crescent Road accompanies the northbound side as a frontage road from Virginia Heights to Lee Highway by these shields. Photo taken 05/31/07.
Wytheville appears for the first time in this mileage sign at 67 miles away. Photo taken 05/31/07.
Exit 5 descends from Interstate 81 north & U.S. 58 east to U.S. 11 & 19 (Lee Highway). U.S. 11 combine southwest onto Euclid Avenue to U.S. 11E-11W-421 at Commonwealth Avenue. The tandem parallels the freeway east to their split at Abingdon. Photo taken 05/31/07.
U.S. 11 & 19 shields posted at the Exit 5 ramp end with Lee Highway. U.S. 58 followed Lee Highway originally from Bristol to Abingdon but was relocated onto the freeway by 1966. Photo taken 05/31/07.
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Next in line for northbound travelers is the Exit 7 diamond interchange with Old Airport Road to U.S. 11 & 19 (Lee Highway) and Bonham Road. Photos taken 09/29/10.
Old Airport Road arcs southwest from Interstate 81 & U.S. 58 to end at Bonham Road near the Shakesville section of Bristol. Northward, the highway becomes Clear Creek Road (SSR 659 outside the city) north of U.S. 11 & 19 to Wallace. Photo taken 09/29/10.
Interstate 81 north & U.S. 58 east exit the city of Bristol en route to Abingdon. Photo taken 09/29/10.
Interstate 81 and parallel U.S. 11 & 19 (Lee Highway) continue from Colonial Heights and Preston Hills to Hilander Park. Exit 10 connects the two via SSR F310. Photo taken 09/29/10.
Exit 10 departs the northbound freeway for U.S.11 & 19 (Lee Highway) at Hilander Park. SSR F310 connects with Majestic Drive east to Evergreen Hills along the south side of Interstate 81 & U.S. 58. Photo taken 09/29/10.
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Lowering toward a crossing of Sinking Creek near Evergreen Hills along Interstate 81 north & U.S. 58 east. Wytheville is 61 miles to the northeast. Photos taken 09/29/10.
Virginia Secondary 611 (Spring Creek Road) crosses paths with Interstate 81 & U.S. 58 at the Exit 13 diamond interchange. Photo taken 09/29/10.
Like Exit 10, Exit 13 acts to connect the freeway with parallel U.S. 11 & 19 (Lee Highway) to the north near Virginia Highlands Airport. SSR 611 ends to the south at SSR 647 (Old Jonesboro Road). Photo taken 07/16/05.
A short distance east of Exit 13 is a truck rest area along the northbound side of Interstate 81 & U.S. 58. Photo taken 07/16/05.
Exit 14 is the first of three Abingdon area interchanges. The parclo interchange connects with Virginia 140 (Old Jonesboro Road) north to U.S. 11 & 19 (Lee Highway) west of their split. Points of interest served by Exit 14 include Virginia Highlands Community College and the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center. Photo taken 09/29/10.
Virginia 140 exists solely to connect Interstate 81 & U.S. 58 with U.S. 11 & 19 (Lee Highway). The state route totals just 0.37 miles between the two highways. SSR 647 continues Old Jonesboro Road southwest into the Shakesville section of Bristol. Photo taken 09/29/10.
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Marion, the Smyth County seat, represents the next city of interest along Interstate 81 north after Abingdon. Photos taken 09/29/10.
Exit 17 follows as a diamond interchange with U.S. 58 Alternate west & Virginia 75 (Cummings Street) in Abingdon. Virginia 75 travels south from the city 12 miles to Tennessee 44 by South Holston Lake. Photo taken 09/29/10.
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U.S. 58 Alternate represents a lengthy route at 87.44 miles between Interstate 81 and U.S. 58 at Jonesville. The bannered route heads west to Norton and Wise. Interests to downtown Abindgon, including those to the Barter Theatre and the William King Regional Arts Center should use Exit 17 onto Cummings Street north. Photo taken 07/16/05. Second photo taken 09/29/10.
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Interstate 81 travels south of Abingdon on the 30 mile drive to Marion. Roanoke is now 132 miles to the northeast. Photos taken 09/29/10.
Interstate 81 waves good bye to U.S. 58 east at the Exit 19 six-ramp parclo interchange. U.S. 58 joins U.S. 11 north briefly along Lee Highway before a nearby split onto Jeb Stuart Highway southeast to Damascus. U.S. 11 continues to parallel the freeway north to upstate New York... Photo taken 09/29/10.
Exit 19 carries U.S. 58 east away from Interstate 81 north at U.S. 11 (Main Street west / Lee Highway east). U.S. 58 reaches Damascus in ten miles and Galax in 75 miles. Photo taken 09/29/10.
Interstate 81 north
Interstate 81, now without a US highway counterpart for the first time since Exit 1, continues eastward toward Marion, a city of 5,968. Wytheville (population 8,211) follows in 52 miles. Photo taken 09/29/10.
Virginia Secondary 704 (Enterprise Road) interchanges with Interstate 81 at an exit added after the completion of the freeway. Enterprise Road ends at Virginia Secondary 609 (Hillman Highway) amid several industrial parks. Photo taken 09/29/10.
Northbound Interstate 81 at the Exit 22 off-ramp to SSR 704 (Enterprise Road). SSR 704 ends to the south at U.S. 11 (Lee Highway). Photo taken 09/29/10.
Northbound reassurance marker posted for Interstate 81 ahead of Greenway Creek and the Stonybrook Road underpass. Photo taken 09/29/10.
Next in line for northbound travelers is the Exit 24 diamond interchange with Virginia 80 (Glenbrook Avenue) at Meadowview. Photo taken 09/29/10.
Virginia 80 begins at the nearby intersection with U.S. 11 (Lee Highway) and travels 65 miles northwest to the Kentucky line near Breaks. The route is part of a multi-state alignment stretching 581 miles west into Missouri! Photo taken 09/29/10.
Reassurance marker posted between Exits 24 and 26. Originally the two full diamonds worked in tandem as a split-diamond interchange. Photo taken 07/16/05.
Virginia Secondary 737 (College Drive) travels north-south between U.S. 11 (Lee Highway) west of Blacksburg and Virginia Secondary 609 (Hillman Highway) at Emory. Photo taken 09/29/10.
Exit 26 leaves Interstate 81 north for SSR 737 (College Drive). Emory is home to Emory & Henry College. Photo taken 09/29/10.
Northbound mileage sign listing the distances to Marion (20 miles) and Wytheville (45 miles). Photo taken 07/16/05.
Easterly scene along Interstate 81 near the crossing of Hall Creek. Photo taken 07/16/05.
Virginia 91 (Maple Street north / Monroe Road south) crosses paths with Interstate 81 at the Exit 29 diamond interchange at Old Glade Spring. The state route used to share a brief overlap with parallel U.S. 11 south. Photo taken 09/29/10.
Virginia 91 leads south to Damascus and Tennessee 91 and north into Glade Spring and Saltville. The state route ends at U.S. 19 Business & 460 Business in Tazewell after a 57-mile trek. A portion of the route through Jeffersson National Forest is unpaved. Photo taken 07/16/05.
U.S. 11 and Interstate 81 parallel one another closely on the 17-mile drive to Marion. Photo taken 07/16/05.
Shifting from the south side of Interstate 81 to the north, U.S. 11 sees a diamond interchange with the freeway at Hutton Creek. Photo taken 09/29/10.
Adjacent U.S. 11 (Lee Highway) comes into view beyond the rock formations to the right of Interstate 81 north in this scene. Photo taken 07/16/05.
U.S. 11 continues along Lee Highway on the north side of Interstate 81 into Chilhowie from Fleet Road (SSR 751). SSR 751 connects Exit 32 with Fleet. Photo taken 07/16/05.
Faris Drive (SSR F034) appears along the south side of Interstate 81 beyond this reassurance shield. Photo taken 09/29/10.
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Approaching the town of Chilhowie along Interstate 81 north. Travelers enter Smyth County. Photo taken 07/16/05. Second photo taken 09/29/10.
Virginia 107 begins at the Exit 35 diamond interchange with Interstate 81 and Virginia Secondary 762 at Chilhowie. Use Exit 35 for the Museum of the Middle Appalachians. Photo taken 09/29/10.
Interstate 81 crosses the Middle Fork Holston River ahead of the Exit 35 ramp departure to Virginia 107 north and SSR 762 south (White Top Avenue). Virginia 107 ventures nine miles northwest from Chilhowie to end at Virginia 91 in Saltville. Photo taken 07/16/05.
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Interstate 81 briefly enters the corporate limits of Chilhowie on the 11-mile approach to Marion. Photo taken 09/29/10. Second photo taken 07/16/05.
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Chilhowie, Interstate 81, and U.S. 11 (Lee HIghway) lie within the Middle Fork North Holston River valley south of Brushy Mountain. Photos taken 07/16/05.
U.S. 11 (Lee Highway) again switches sides with Interstate 81 at the Exit 39 diamond interchange near Seven Mile Ford. Photo taken 09/29/10.
Virginia Secondary 645 (Chestnut Ridge Road) stems southwest from U.S. 11 (Lee Highway) and Interstate 81 (Exit 39) to SSR 660 near St. Clair Bottom and Riverside. Photo taken 07/16/05.
Trucks, buses and drivers of other large vehicles are advised of the forthcoming incline along Interstate 81 toward Marion. Drivers operating below 50 mph must use the right lane. Photo taken 07/16/05.
Interstate 81 and parallel U.S. 11 (Lee Highway) continue seven miles east into the city of Marion. Photo taken 07/16/05.
The winding nature of Interstate 81 through the Marion area prompts these signs advising caution during inclement weather to Exit 50. Photo taken 09/29/10.
U.S. 11 (Lee Highway) shifts back to the north side of Interstate 81 ahead of the wye interchange (Exit 44) near McMullen. Three interchanges serve the Smyth County seat. Photo taken 09/29/10.
U.S. 11 constitutes a four-lane arterial east to South Main Street in Marion. The US route leads directly to downtown and intersects Virginia 16 (Commerce Street). Photo taken 07/16/05.
A transmission corridor orientates along the hills above Marion, paralleling Interstate 81 east from Exit 44 to Goodpasture Ridge, east of Exit 45. These lines continue east to Wytheville and northwest to Saltville. Photo taken 09/29/10.
Virginia 16 follows Commerce Street south from downtown Marion to a diamond interchange with Interstate 81 (Exit 45). The state route continues to Sugar Grove, Mount Rogers National Recreation Area, and Troutdale. Interests to Grayson Highlands State Park should follow the route to U.S. 58 west. Photo taken 09/29/10.
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Interstate 81 separates through a deep valley adjacent to Staley Knob. Hooks Branch flows underneath the freeway. Photos taken 07/16/05.
Motorists bound for Virginia 16 (Commerce Street) north to Marion or south to Furnace Hill and Attoway depart Interstate 81 north. Virginia 16 is part of a multi-state route through North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia. Within the Old Dominion, Virginia 16 travels 84 miles between Mouth of Wilson and Bishop. Photo taken 09/29/10.
Interstate 81 skims the northern reaches of Goodpasture Ridge near the industrial east side of Marion. Photo taken 09/29/10.
U.S. 11 follows Main Street east from its split with Virginia 16 (Park Boulevard) north to kiss Interstate 81 at the Exit 47 diamond interchange. Photo taken 09/29/10.
Northbound at the Exit 47 off-ramp to Rifton Drive and U.S. 11 (Lee Highway). U.S. 11 follows the path of Interstate 81 east through Mount Carmel and Atkins. Westward, U.S. 11 to Virginia 16 north lead drivers to Hungry Mother State Park. Photo taken 09/29/10.
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Reassurance shield of Interstate 81 north posted at Mount Carmel. Wytheville follows in 23 miles; Roanoke appears for the first time since Bristol at 101 miles out. Photos taken 07/16/05.
Constructed after the initial completion of the freeway, Exit 50 serves industrial park areas of Atkins and U.S. 11 (Lee Highway) from Interstate 81. Photo taken 09/29/10.
Exit 50 utilizes Nicks Creek Road (SSR 622) to make the connection with U.S. 11. SSR 622 leads south otherwise to Virginia 16 on Brushy Mountain. Photo taken 09/29/10.
U.S. 11 travels east from SSR 622 and Exit 50 into the residential portion of Atkins. Photo taken 09/29/10.
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Northbound scenes along Interstate 81 through Atkins. The Middle Fork North Holston River remains along side the freeway to Exit 54. Photos taken 07/16/05.
Virginia Secondary 683 (Winsor Road) meets Interstate 81 at the Exit 54 diamond interchange west of Groseclose and Mountain Empire Airport. Photo taken 07/16/05.
The off-ramp of Exit 54 parts ways with Interstate 81 north to SSR 683 (Winsor Road). SSR 683 ends at U.S. 11 (Lee Highway) nearby and SSR 617 (Davis Valley Road) to the north. Use Exit 54 to visit the Settlers Museum of Southwest Virginia. Photo taken 09/29/10.
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Northbound Interstate 81 and companion mileage sign posted at Groseclose. Photo taken 07/16/05. Second photo taken 09/29/10.
Mountain Empire Airport comes into view along Interstate 81 north near the Burgundy Lane overpass. Photo taken 07/16/05.
57.4 miles into Virginia, Interstate 81 crosses into Wythe County. Photo taken 07/16/05.


 


Photo Credits:

  • 08/24/03 by AARoads and Justin Cozart.
  • 07/16/05 by AARoads.
  • 05/31/07 by AARoads and Carter Buchanan.
  • 09/29/10 by AARoads and Carter Buchanan.

Connect with:
U.S. 58
U.S. 421
Interstate 381 & Virginia 381
U.S. 11
U.S. 19

Page Updated 02-13-2012.