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I-81 Tier 2 NEPA Environmental Study

Christiansburg to north of Roanoke

Project at a Glance

Begin Date
Fall 2012

Cost
$600,000

Locality
Botetourt, Montgomery, and Roanoke

District
Salem

Contact
Angel Deem

Overview

An environmental study for the 32-mile section of Interstate 81 between (exit 118) Christiansburg and exit 150 (Troutville) is currently underway.  The study launched in fall 2012 for the section of I-81 between exit 118 and exit 143 (Roanoke), but VDOT expanded the study area to include another seven miles of I-81 between exit 143 (Roanoke) and exit 150 (Troutville) in April 2013.

Based on a 2003 agreement between VDOT and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the study is the next required step before a widening project along this stretch of I-81 can be designed and constructed.

This Tier 2 environmental study will cover the section of I-81 between exit 118 and exit 150.  The widening concept that will advance into the Tier 2 environmental study is the addition of two general purpose highway lanes on I-81 in each direction adjacent to the existing lanes to address future traffic demands.

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires consideration and documentation of potential environmental consequences of proposed transportation improvements and making the information available for public comment before specific location and design decisions are made.

VDOT anticipates making a draft of the Environmental Assessment available for public review and comment during the fall or winter of 2014.

Background

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires consideration and documentation of potential environmental consequences of proposed transportation improvements and making the information available for public comment before specific location and design decisions are made.

In accordance with NEPA, in the fall of 2003, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and VDOT launched an I-81 corridor improvement study.

In November 2003, VDOT and FHWA announced that the agencies had agreed to streamline the corridor improvement study by dividing it into two phases, or tiers.

VDOT completed the Tier 1 Final Environmental Statement (EIS) and received a Record of Decision (ROD) in 2007.

The Tier 1 study identified needs, developed solutions and evaluated potential impacts associated with conceptual-level improvements along the entire 325-mile I-81 corridor in Virginia.  The Tier 1 study also divided I-81 into eight segments for further detailed analysis, which could be performed in Tier 2 studies.

VDOT launched the Tier 2 study in fall 2012 for the section of I-81 between exit 118 (Christiansburg) and exit 143 (Roanoke).  Based on a traffic analysis associated with the Tier 2 document in April 2013, VDOT then expanded the study area to include an additional seven miles of I-81 to the north between exit 143 and exit 150 (Troutville).  

The Tier 2 study document will evaluate site-specific conditions and impacts before specific design and location decisions are made.   

After completion of a Tier 2 study, FHWA may authorize use of federal funds for VDOT to begin designing construction plans for future improvements.

Funding to complete the Tier 2 Environmental Study was provided in the July 1, 2012 update of VDOT's Six-Year Improvement Program.

 

What will be included in the Tier 2 study?

The Tier 1 study provided a broad inventory of potential impacts of expanding all of I-81 in Virginia.  Tier 2 study will focus on the specific section between Roanoke and Troutville.

The Tier 2 study will

• Evaluate site-specific conditions and impacts before design and location decisions are made.

• Examine traffic, wetlands, land use, cultural resources, air, noise, and recreational facilities, etc.

• Validate/update info from Tier 1 (number of lanes needed, traffic)

• Look at a “corridor width” and appropriately sized “bubble” for interchanges

• Consider location of lanes (inside, outside, or combination) may be recommended in some locations

Citizen Information Meetings

VDOT held a citizen information meeting to gather public input on an environmental study being conducted for the section of I-81 between exit 118 (Christiansburg) and exit 150 (Botetourt County).  The meeting was held Wednesday, June 26, in Daleville.

VDOT held two citizen information meetings for the Tier 2 Environmental Assessment of the I-81 Corridor Improvement Study in early February in Christiansburg and Salem. Based on traffic data, the study has been extended north an additional seven miles to exit 150 (Route 220) in Botetourt County. The original section of I-81 included in the study was between exit 118 (Christiansburg) and exit 143 (Roanoke).

The meetings were held to provide an opportunity for citizens and organizations to give VDOT comments or suggestions on the proposed project and the scope of issues to be addressed in the environmental study.  

Meeting materials from the citizen information meetings held in February 2013:

Meeting materials from the citizen information meeting held in June 2013 in Botetourt County:

 

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Page last modified: May 7, 2014