Rockbridge County - I-81 Truck Climbing Lanes
Project at a Glance
Awarded by CTB on Feb. 5, 2009
Est Completion Date
Contract value $74,213,533.63
Lengths and Limits
I-81 Northbound mile marker 195.6 to 202.5
W. C. English Inc. of Lynchburg
Wayne Nolde, P.E.
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 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 location on I-81 northbound 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.
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.
On Thursday, December 12, 8 p.m. to 7 a.m., all northbound traffic will be detoured off I-81 at exit 195 (Timber Ridge area) and onto Route 11 north. Detoured traffic will follow signs to Route 710 (Sterrett Road), and back onto I-81 at exit 200. This closure will be used to complete bridge work in this area.
A back-up date for the December 12 closure/detour between mile markers 195 and 200 has been scheduled for December 16, 8 p.m. to 7 a.m.
Related lane closures will continue on Route 710 (Sterrett Road) Monday, December 9 through Saturday, December 14 from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. Flagging crews will direct traffic. These closures are for bridge work at I-81 exit 200, but will not affect interstate motorists.
All work is weather permitting.
Traffic alerts can also be found on the VDOT website under Travel Center, Travel advisories and lane closures. Click on the area of the state you are interested in, and view current travel advisories and lane closures. Click here to go to the Staunton District Travel Center page: Staunton District
Real-time traffic information is available on the VDOT 511Virginia.org website and also by calling 511 on your landline or wireless phone. Click here to go to 511: Virginia 511 Web
Media and Public Events
A design public hearing was held on November 8, 2007 from 4 to 7 p.m. at Fairfield Elementary School
A groundbreaking ceremony was held on October 26, 2009 at 11:00 a.m. adjacent to the Route 712 overpass at I-81.
Safety Service Patrol
The Interstate 81 truck climbing lane project in Rockbridge County now has a safety service patrol that will be active from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week. Additional patrols can be added based on construction activities.
The patrol area in both the northbound and southbound lanes extends from exit 195, which is at Route 11 near Lexington and Timber Ridge to exit 205, which is at Route 606 in Raphine. The patrol area includes adjacent primary routes within the project limits.
The patrol will provide motorist assistance and disabled vehicle assistance and removal services. The patrol will also provide quick traffic control during incidents within the work zone limits.
State Project Number: 0081-081-708,P101, R201, C501, B601, B603, B602
Federal Project Number: NC11-081-2(271)