Plan to expand Smart Road to Interstate 81 moving forward

BLACKSBURG, Va. – The plan to create a Smart Road corridor between Blacksburg and Roanoke is moving forward. 

The project would connect the section of Smart Road in Blacksburg all the way to Interstate 81.

"The big thing is from an economic development standpoint and the research opportunities it could create. And from a traffic standpoint, it certainly helps," said Dan Brugh, executive director for the New River Valley Metropolitan Planning Organization, or MPO. 

After a unanimous vote by the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors Monday night, Brugh and the MPO are submitting a proposal to Smart Scale. Brugh says the idea of a Smart Road corridor has been floating around for years as Roanoke and Blacksburg have grown.  

"There's going to be a lot more interaction going north on I-81, and so the initial thing that comes to mind is, okay, you'll be able to get to Roanoke 10 or 15 minutes quicker than you can right now," said Brugh. 

The Smart Road project carries a price tag of about $215 million. Brugh says that makes the chances for approval slim, but it's worth trying. 

"One of the things it helps is to keep it on everybody's radar screens and to look for some additional funding outside of the traditional financing," said Brugh. 

After the proposal is submitted to Smart Scale, it will be scored, then sent to the Commonwealth Transportation Board for review. 

To learn more about Smart Road, click here.