Meetings scheduled on major road corridors
The state highway department is asking residents for suggestions as three new studies prepare for what could be huge road projects through Montgomery and Roanoke counties.
At meetings Tuesday in Elliston, Wednesday in Riner, and next month in Christiansburg and Salem, road planners will make short presentations and hear from residents about possible work along Virginia 8, U.S. 460 and U.S. 11, and Interstate 81.
“What we really want is people who live, travel, work in that area to give us input, to tell us what they see, what they experience,” said Jason Bond, a spokesman for the Virginia Department of Transportation district office in Salem.
Tuesday’s meeting revolves around possible improvements to a 17-mile section of U.S. 11 and U.S. 460 that runs from I-81’s Exit 118 in Christiansburg to Salem.
Wednesday’s meeting concerns improvements to a nine-mile stretch of Virginia 8 that goes from I-81’s Exit 114 in Christiansburg to Virginia 863, River Lane.
Next week’s sessions are part of two studies that will take a year or more to produce an array of short-, medium- and long-term recommendations — “a sort of tiered approach to improvements on those corridors,” Bond said.
Examples of possible recommendations might be lengthening a turning lane or straightening a section of road, Bond said.
Jay Guy, a VDOT planner who last week spoke to Montgomery County supervisors about the meetings, cautioned that the studies on Virginia 8 and U.S. 11 and U.S. 460 will not craft final plans. “They will not address private property layouts that may front the corridors,” Guy said.
The third road study is a look at environmental impacts from the possible addition of traffic lanes to both north- and southbound I-81 between Christiansburg and Exit 143.
The study began last fall and “is the next step toward widening that stretch,” Bond said.
The new study is separate from the ongoing work to build a five-mile climbing lane along Christiansburg Mountain. That work is to make the road safer, Bond said. The new study looks at projects that would increase the interstate’s capacity.
Formally called a NEPA Tier 2 study, referring to the National Environmental Policy Act, the new study will identify environmentally sensitive areas like wetlands and cultural resources like historic sites.
Residents are invited to add their comments at meetings next month in Christiansburg and Salem, Bond said.
Residents along I-81 may already be receiving letters about the NEPA study or seeing study crews walking through fields near the highway, Bond said.
When finished, all the studies will be considered by the state officials who must decide whether to go ahead with actual construction, Bond said.
The meeting schedule:
All meetings start at 5 p.m. and have an open-house format, with a short presentation on road projects at 6 p.m.
- U.S. 11/U.S. 460, Jan. 22, Elliston Volunteer Fire Department
- Virginia 8, Jan. 23, Riner Volunteer Fire Department
- Interstate 81, Feb. 6, Falling Branch Elementary School, Christiansburg; Feb. 7, Fort Lewis Elementary School, Salem
The Roanoke Times | 381-1669
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