SALEM, Va. (WFXR) — The Commonwealth Transportation Board awarded a $179 million design-build contract to Archer Western Construction, LLC in April to widen I-81 to three lanes — both northbound and southbound — from mile marker 136.6 to mile marker 141.8 in Roanoke County and the city of Salem.
According to the Virginia Department of Transportation’s (VDOT) announcement on Tuesday, June 29, this is the first widening project of the I-81 Corridor Improvement Program and it is meant to increase capacity, decrease crash rates and delays, and improve safety and crash clearance times.
Officials say the project design not completed yet, but construction is expected to begin in late 2021 or early 2022.
The I-81 Corridor Improvement Program — a package of targeted improvements costing more than $2 billion — was approved by the Commonwealth Transportation Board in December 2018, funded by the Virginia General Assembly, and signed into law by Gov. Ralph Northam in spring 2019.
“While many I-81 Corridor Improvement Program projects have already been delivered or are underway, this project is by far the largest to go to construction,” said I-81 Program Delivery Director Dave Covington in Tuesday’s statement. “We are excited about the partnership with the Archer Western team and look forward to this section of I-81 being safer, less congested and more reliable than it is today.”
According to VDOT, the new lanes will be built along I-81’s right and left shoulders. In addition, the project will replace six bridges; widen two bridges; install approximately 2.6 miles of sound barrier walls along I-81 North; improve the southbound exit 137 off-ramp intersection at Wildwood Road; and add interchange lighting at exits 137, 140, and 141.
VDOT has produced a podcast and video to provide more information about the widening project between exits 137 and 141, which you can watch by clicking here.
You can view additional information — including maps, schedules, and upcoming project details — about the I-81 Corridor Improvement Program at Improve81.org.
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