Roanoke, Botetourt Counties ask for I-81 to be a priority

Published: Oct. 23, 2018 at 5:52 PM EDT
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Leaders in multiple counties are now asking the state to prioritize fixing Interstate 81. Their pleas come on the heels of a meeting surrounding the highway's future.

It's easy to find someone to gripe about Interstate 81. Roanoke County Supervisor Phil North has heard his share.

Phil North, Roanoke County Supervisor, said, “Well yes. That's a topic of much debate.”

He says some of the highest traffic counts along 81 are in the county, and three out of four people traveling 81 don't feel safe.

North said, “Many of the needed areas are in the Salem district.”

It's why he and the other supervisors passed a resolution -- asking the general assembly and VDOT to make this a priority in 2019. Signs are pointing up that this could be the year for I-81.

Jason Bond, VDOT Spokesperson, said, “That's different from the past where leaders would come up with suggestions to improve 81. This time it's coming from the general assembly.”

Bond says adding a third lane from Christiansburg to Troutville is on the table, and it could come up at Thursday's meeting, where a realistic wish list for I-81 will be unveiled.

Bond said, “So we'll have to see what makes the cut between the $4-5 billion that was proposed and what actually gets recommended.”

Bond says the goal is to give the general assembly a project they can pull the trigger on in 2019. For many, action can't come soon enough.

North said, “People want good roads, and they want safe roads.”

A sales tax and regional fuel tax increase, as well as tolling are on the table to pay for upgrades. The meeting is this Thursday, October 25 at 3:00 at the Holiday Inn Valley View. People will be able to give their feedback.