Sandy Myers 540-332-9201
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Ken Slack 540-332-9264
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Feb. 5, 2009


STAUNTON – At its February 5 meeting, the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) awarded a design-build contract for construction of truck-climbing lanes on Interstate 81 in Rockbridge County. This project is located in the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) Staunton District. The VDOT Staunton District serves Frederick, Shenandoah, Clarke, Warren, Page, Rockingham, Augusta, Highland, Rockbridge, Alleghany and Bath counties.

The truck climbing lane contract, valued at $74,213,533.63 was awarded to W. C. English Inc. of Lynchburg. The project is located on the northbound lanes of I-81 from mile marker 195.6 to 202.5 in the Fairfield area, which is north of Lexington. The 6.97 mile-long project will add a truck-climbing lane in this location, replace the bridges and construct retaining walls at Route 716, Route 712 and Route 710, improve existing left and right shoulders, plus update guardrails, guardrail transitions and end treatments to meet current Federal Highway standards.

This project is in line with a resolution passed by the CTB in October 2006 that directed VDOT to implement a program of safety improvements to I-81, including construction of truck climbing lanes. About a dozen locations along steep grades on I-81 have been identified where climbing lanes would improve traffic flow and safety, with the Rockbridge location being a top priority for construction.

In 2009 the average traffic volume on I-81 in this area was 45,500 vehicles per day. The average traffic volume is projected to increase to 68,650 vehicles per day by the year 2029.

Completion of the project will enhance the safety of I-81 in this area by allowing slower moving vehicles to stay in the right two-lanes. Other benefits of the project include better traffic management with wider shoulders plus the use of the additional travel lane during traffic incidents.

Randy Kiser, VDOT Staunton District construction engineer said, “This particular northbound segment was chosen because it has one of the longest and steepest uphill grades, higher than average crashes compared to other uphill grades, and low operating speeds for trucks within the VDOT Staunton District. Truck climbing lane locations were identified in accordance with American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) criteria during the corridor study conducted in the late 1990s.”

Current funding for this project in the Interstate Six Year Program is provided through Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) earmarks for the interstate system, along with SAFETEA-LU earmarks matching state funds, which constitutes the state match portion required by SAFETEA-LU regulations.
The expected completion date is October 30, 2012.

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Page last modified: Oct. 17, 2012