VDOT holds hearing on I-81 widening plans

ROANOKE, Va. – The Virginia Department of Transportation is asking for the community’s input on Interstate 81.

Tuesday night, VDOT is hosting a public hearing on the major advancements happening on the interstate.

With lots of cars and trucks, with not much room, VDOT is widening the interstate and creating the I-81 corridor improvement program. According to Jason Bond, VDOT spokesperson, it’s part of a more than 2-billion-dollar package of target improvements for the entire interstate I-81 corridor.

Now, VDOT wants the public’s input.

“This is a very significant project in our area. It’s a 479-million-dollar project. It will provide additional capacity and reduce crashes along I-81,” Bond said.

Even with challenges that may arise, James Cook, lead pastor of Valley Church, said it’s ultimately for the better.

“It is difficult, we know it needs to be widened, we know it will take several years to do so, we know there will be traffic issues with construction. it’s one of those things, it’s just going to get worse before it gets better,” Cook said.

We’re told that most of the work will be done behind barrier walls and may be nighttime closures.

”The goal is to keep mainline Interstate 81 open to traffic as much as possible, particularly during those peak travel and commute times,” Bond said.

And for Valley Church, their hope is for a quick turnover.

“It will affect us in a negative way, but the reality is that it needs to be done, and what we ask is that they do it in expedited, so it’s not a 3- or four-year project maybe it’s one,” Cook said.

VDOT said widening I-81 will improve safety between exits 143 to 150 by increasing crash response times.

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