Interstate 81

Home » Guides » Virginia » Interstate 81

A heavily traveled trucking corridor, as it provides part of a bypass of Washington, Baltimore and New York between the southeastern U.S. and New England states, Interstate 81 runs northeast along the spine of the Appalachian Mountains throughout the state of Virginia. Replacing U.S. 11, I-81 connects smaller and regional cities in western Virginia. These include Bristol, Wytheville, Lexington, Staunton and Winchester. Long term planning to address increasing freight travel and congestion included tolling options and adding truck only lanes.

Interstate 81 Virginia Guides

Interstate 81 bypassing Bristol opened to traffic on November 20, 1961. The six mile section extended east from the Tennessee state line to U.S. 11/19 east of Bristol in Washington County (Exit 5). Costing $7 million, the project included constructing the one mile long connecting spur (I-381). The State Highway Department also debuted a new welcome sign on this stretch. The four color panel was designed with white lettering on a blue field, with a cardinal perched on a branch of dogwood on one side. The new sign would replace an obsolete welcome markers and be placed at 30 other state line points on Interstates and Primary Roads.1

Interstate 81 scenes
Virginia Route 16 (Commerce Street) leaves a diamond interchange with Interstate 81 in Marion and continues through Marion to Tazewell, 33 miles to the north. Hungry Mother State Park lies four miles ahead.
SR 217 spurs east from Commerce Street nearby to the Marion Correctional Center. 10/02/10
Major Grahams Road (SR 619) north at the southbound entrance ramp to I-81/U.S. 11 near Grahams Forge. Old U.S. 11 (E Lee Highway) lies ahead, with Draper Mountain beyond the SR 619 end. 10/02/10
SR 419 (Electric Road) south at the parclo B2 interchange (Exit 141) with Intestate 81 outside Salem. 08/06/13
SR 612 (Laurel Hill Road) heads east from U.S. 11 (Lee-Jackson Highway) in Verona to the diamond interchange at Exit 81. 05/28/21
An access road links U.S. 11 (S Main Street) in south Harrisonburg with Interstate 81 at a trumpet interchange (Exit 243). 08/06/13

  1. "Bristol Bypass Opens Monday." The Progress-Index (Petersburg, VA), November 19, 1961.

Photo Credits:

  • 10/02/10 by AARoads and Carter Buchanan.
  • 08/06/13 by AARoads.
  • 05/28/21 by AARoads.

Connect with:
Interstate 64
Interstate 66
Interstate 77
Interstate 381 / State Route 381
Interstate 581
U.S. 11
U.S. 48
U.S. 58
U.S. 220
U.S. 460

Page Updated 08-10-2021.

Go to Top