CTB approves more than $64 million for Route 220 improvements

The project comes after years of high crashes in the area

BOTETOURT COUNTY – The Commonwealth Transportation Board announced Wednesday it has officially agreed to spend more than $64 million on safety improvements to Route 220 in Botetourt County.

This comes after years of high crash numbers in the area, and several public hearings on the issue.

Jerry Ross says he knows Route 220 well, and he's glad that changes are coming.

"I drive the road every day back and forth to work for the last seven years, and there's been a lot of accidents along this road, a lot of fatalities, and there needs to be some upgrades on it, safety needs to be key," said Ross.

Ross is one of the 5,500 drivers that currently use 220 every day.

VDOT says, between 2010 and 2014, there were 72 crashes on the stretch of 220 north of Eagle Rock, and in more than 40 percent of them, the car left the roadway.

That danger is something the county says it is glad is being addressed.

"It's narrow, of course you have uneven banks on both sides, and a river running through there, and people go fast," said County Spokesman Cody Sexton.

VDOT Spokesman Jason Bond says the most popular option to fix the road was to make it a four lane highway, but because that was out of budget, VDOT's contractor, Faulconer Construction, will improve the road that's already there.

"Improvements will include things like center line rumble strips, edge line rumble strips, some turn lanes intersections, some additional passing zones. all of this is to make the road safer," said Bond.

That safety is becoming more important than ever, because traffic is expected to increase over the next several years.

"As our businesses expand, we expect more traffic coming in from the Alleghany valley, and that is the major thoroughfare connecting Botetourt to Alleghany," said Sexton.

Construction isn't set to start until 2018, and won't be complete until 2021, but Ross says, with the prospect of more drivers joining him in the near future, he's glad something is being done.

"What they're doing is better than nothing at all," said Ross.