Two-year project to widen I-81 set to begin this spring

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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ7)-- The Commonwealth Transportation Board has awarded a contract to widen two miles of Interstate 81 in Roanoke County.

WDBJ7 photo

Work is expected to begin on the project in spring 2020 and be completed in summer 2022.

The contract for $27.3 million was awarded to Branch Civil, Inc. of Roanoke, to add a third lane each on northbound and southbound I-81 between exits 141 (Salem) and 143 (Roanoke).

The Virginia Department of Transportation says the third lane will add capacity along a busy stretch of I-81 where drivers experience peak-hour delays because of so many drivers entering and exiting the interstate.

VDOT says about 70,000 drivers use this section of Interstate 81 each day, making it the mostly heavily traveled section in Virginia.

Special Report: Has Interstate 81 become more dangerous?

Funding for the project is in the Virginia Department of Transportation’s budget as result of the Roanoke Valley Transportation Planning Organization submitting SMART SCALE applications in 2015 and 2016. This funding is separate from the Interstate 81 Corridor Improvement Fund that the Virginia General Assembly established in 2019.

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