The Virginia Department of Transportation has secured all of the funding it needs to bring improvements to a nearly ten-mile stretch of Route 220 in Botetourt County.
According to VDOT, which hosted a public meeting Thursday night about the project, changes would be made between Iron Gate and the James River bridge at Route 43 near Eagle Rock.
“Right now, there are areas that if your car gives you a problem, you’ve got to stop right in the lane,” said Raymond Thompson, who lives in Botetourt County. “You [have] no place to pull off the road.”
Thompson owns land along the highway where construction will take place. He said officials have notified him that the road improvements are expected to extend onto his property.
“Especially right there where my land is, the road is very narrow, and I’m in favor of the improvements,” he said.
“People are using it to get from [Interstate] 64…into the Roanoke area,” said Jen Ward, communications coordinator for VDOT. “And it’s got some curves on it that can be a little treacherous.”
As many as 6,000 vehicles travel on this stretch of road daily, Ward said. Nearly half of the accidents that occur involve vehicles running off the lane, she added.
“We will be doing improvements that directly impact the crash history that we’ve had on the road and will hopefully decrease the amount of crashes,” Ward said.
The project, which will cost $79 million, will be financed by state funding, Ward said.
Parts of the highway will be realigned, and several new turn lanes and wider shoulders will be added, Ward said. Rumble strips will also be added to warn drivers when they are drifting out of the lane, she added.
People we spoke with said they are optimistic about the project.
“The road needs to be widened,” Thompson said. “Just a better way to head towards Roanoke.”
The project will take about four years to complete, but work will be done in three different phases to minimize the impact on traffic, Ward said. The first phase is expected to begin as early as fall 2017, she added.