Local leaders are hoping big changes at the Exit 150 interchange along Interstate 81 will someday mean big business.
According to officials with the Virginia Department of Transportation, crews are opening the new roundabout at Exit 150B and Route 11 overnight Saturday. They will also close the current I-81 northbound on-ramp and open a new northbound on-ramp at the traffic circle.
Meanwhile, Route 11 south will be closed between the traffic circle and Route 220 until December, and Gateway Crossing will serve as a detour, explained Jen Ward of the Virginia Department of Transportation.
“It’s a busy interchange,” Ward said. “It’s got a lot happening. We have primary routes all intersecting together.”
People we spoke with who live and work in the area said despite the detours, the changes are greatly needed.
“It’ll be a lot easier for people to get where they need to go,” said Patricia Worth, who works at Angelle’s Diner.
As the redesigned interchange gets closer to becoming a reality, county leaders say the next step is bringing new business to the area, including along the newer detour road, Gateway Crossing.
“It’s more than a detour,” said Todd Dodson of the Botetourt County Board of Supervisors.
The county wants the area to become a place that will attract people traveling on the interstate, Dodson said. That means bringing in several new businesses.
“It’s going to have higher-end hotels, higher-end restaurants and retail where people are going to want to stop and stay and spend some time and spend their money,” he said.
That’s welcome news to businesses already there. At Angelle’s Diner, Patricia Worth said, a lot of business comes from guests at nearby hotels.
“If we get more businesses, that means more business for Angelle’s Diner,” she said.
The entire Exit 150 project will be complete by next summer, Ward said.
Route 11 north has been closed for several months due to construction. The northbound lanes will reopen this weekend, Ward added.