I-81 Advisory Committee discusses improvement program for corridor

I-81 Advisory Committee discusses improvement program for corridor
Interstate 81 (Source: WDBJ)

HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) — In early March, there was a significant decrease in travel following the start of the pandemic.

Then in April, things started to pick up again, though not quite the same traffic we were seeing this time last year.

Passenger travel dipped and is now making its way it back up. Meanwhile, trucks returned to normal volumes and actually began to exceed numbers from 2019.

As for projects to improve I-81, there are currently 56 projects on the table. Sixteen of them are not scheduled to begin until sometime between 2023 and 2025. Another 32 projects are in the design phase. Eight of the total projects are completed.

Some of those future projects include curve improvements, more camera coverage and an expansion of the safety service patrol.

Other items discussed in the meeting include how rail services are decongesting the corridor and possibly new bus routes through the Virginia Breeze program.

Laura Farmer is the chief financial officer of the Virginia Department of Transportation. She said one of the biggest changes in funding is the authorization of debt with an aggregate principal amount of one billion dollars.

“I-81 will receive dedicated regional field tax revenues and an allocation from the interstate program. Both of those components are available for the I-81 corridor improvements,” Farmer explained during her presentation.

Virginia Delegate Tony Wilt is on the voting committee for the program, and he said he is happy with Friday’s report.

“It was very encouraging that the funding is not last actually a little ahead of projections,” Wilt explained.

More information on the I-81 improvement plan can be found here.

A link to Friday’s meeting can be found here.

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