by Dean Seal, news staff writer
Travelers of southbound I-81 heading home next week will have more to contend with than other drivers.
Since spring of last year, the Virginia Department of Transportation has been conducting routine ‘blasting’ on southbound Interstate 81, between mile markers 120 and 125.
While VDOT made explicit accommodations for student travel in the contract with the company performing construction, those accommodations don’t extend to the week of typical student move out.
“We wrote certain dates into the contract, specifically Move-In days for on-campus residents and graduation,” said Jason Bond, communication representative of the Salem district. “We do this for Virginia Tech and Radford. We don’t have workers out on move-in day, but move out isn’t incorporated into the contract because of students’ staggering dates of departure.”
While it’s expected that traffic will be higher during the last week of exams, Bond doesn’t recall major congestion in the blasting area last year.
The goal of the construction is to add a 12-foot climbing lane for large trucks or commercial vehicles, as well as upgrade I-81’s median and outside shoulder in the five-mile stretch. VDOT expects that the completion of the project, scheduled for fall of 2013, will increase the overall safety of I-81.
Students can use VDOT’s Virginia 511 service to check daily traffic updates before travel.