I-81 back open after bridge repairs disrupt traffic near Salem

Published: Jul. 14, 2023 at 8:45 PM EDT
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SALEM, Va. (WDBJ) - UPDATE: As of 1 p.m. Tuesday, the right lane closure on northbound Interstate 81 in Roanoke County near Salem at mile marker 137 has been removed. In addition, the ramps onto northbound I-81 at exits 118, 132 and 137 have been reopened.

ORIGINAL STORY: If you travel on Interstate 81 near Salem, be prepared for significant delays in the northbound lanes this week.

Two bridges are in need of repair after being struck with tractor trailers. The Virginia Department of Transportation has scheduled both of the projects at once to minimize the disruption.

The work was scheduled to start Sunday around 6 p.m.

The right lane will close near mile marker 137 and it will remain closed until the job is completed, hopefully before the afternoon commute Tuesday.

“We know this is going to inconvenience people. We know it’s going to be impactful,” VDOT spokesperson Jason Bond told WDBJ7. “Just please be aware of what’s going on. This will be a pretty significant disruption on traffic between Christiansburg and Roanoke.”

Bond is encouraging drivers to consider using Route 11/460 between Christiansburg and Roanoke, and to consult the 511 app to plan their trips and track any delays. “This is going to impact people during commuter times both in the morning and in the evening on Monday,” Bond said. “Folks just need to be aware expect those delays and consider those alternate routes.”

After the bridge repairs, VDOT is also planning a traffic switch in the next few weeks, as some of the concrete barriers in the work zone are reconfigured. That work will include some nighttime and weekend ramp and lane closures.