Traffic changes coming to Roanoke with new VDOT plan

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ROANOKE, Va (WDBJ7) Right at the intersection of Route 220 and Electric Road, there's a big blue sign with the word "Welcome" splashed across the front. But no matter what the sign might say, this intersection is an unwelcome sight for many.

It even induces outright dread in drivers like Elizabeth Oliver

"I know a lot of people who've been in accidents," said Oliver, pointing towards the frequently traffic-clogged road.

However, Tuesday morning, VDOT announced that problem could change. As part of a major bundle of transportation projects, this interchange will be wiped outIn its place: a so-called diverging diamond interchange will be built, similar to the current Valley View exit off Interstate 581.

"A diverging diamond interchange is an innovative design where drivers temporarily drive on the opposite side of the road than they're used to," said Jason Bond, spokesperson for VDOT.

He says this latest project is just one small part of the latest round of SmartScale funding from the state.

"It's really about building and selecting the right transportation projects," Bond said.

Under SmartScale, the Department of Transportation rates and ranks transportation projects from local municipalitiesThe top contenders get selected for funding every two years.

This year, "$859.4 million was put toward 134 projects that went through the smart scale process," said Bond.

In addition to the 220/Electric Road interchange, VDOT will be making improvements to Orange Avenue, and Williamson Road's sidewalks, among other spots.

But don't expect to see construction start immediately Most projects are scheduled out over the next six years "from concept, through preliminary engineering, design, and then moving through right of way and construction," said Bond.

But for drivers hitting the roads now, those changes can't come soon enough

Because the traffic does get backed up here," said Elizabeth Oliver.