VDOT News - Bristol



Michelle Earl 276-696-3283


April 16, 2021

April 19 - 25, 2021: Bristol's Weekly Traffic Alert

BRISTOL – In an effort to keep motorists informed, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) provides weekly information about highway construction and maintenance projects in southwestern Virginia. When traveling through highway work zones, use caution and be alert to changes in traffic patterns and slow-moving or stopped traffic.


To help motorists take the guesswork out of travel plans, call VDOT’s 511 or visit http://www.511virginia.org for real-time traffic information.


Entries with asterisks (***) indicate the listing is new or the status of the project has changed since last week’s traffic alert.



***I-81 shoulder widening: A project to widen the shoulders of five sections of Interstate 81 is underway. This week, there will be 24-hour lane closures southbound between mile markers 54.7 and 53.9 near the Smyth/Wythe County line. The locations of the shoulder widening projects are:


  • Northbound I-81 between mile markers 39.3 and 40.9 in Smyth County
  • Northbound between mile markers 33.7 and 32.2 near the Smyth/Washington county line
  • Northbound between mile markers 48.8 and 47.9 in Smyth County
  • Southbound between mile markers 53.9 and 54.7 in Smyth County
  • Southbound between mile markers 34.2 and 32.8 in Smyth County (Completion: late June 2021)


Interstate 81 – Exit 17: Motorists should be alert to work underway to improve Interstate 81 exit 17. The project includes improvements to the exit 17 northbound on and off ramps, improvements to a segment of Route 75, reconstruction and relocation of Gravel Lake Road, lengthening the I-81 southbound on ramp, and relocation of the frontage road located adjacent to the northbound exit 17 off ramp. (Completion: Fall 2022)



Interstate 81 – Exit 19: Be alert to the following activities on the I-81 exit 19 safety improvement project in Abingdon: intermittent daytime lane closures on Empire Drive. The project includes realigning a portion of Empire Drive, widening a curve along the southbound off ramp, and adding traffic signals at the intersection of newly aligned Empire Drive and Route 11 and where Route 11 intersects with the end of the exit 19 southbound ramps. (Completion: Summer 2022)


I-77 bridges over Cove Creek: Be alert to a project to replace the Interstate 77 bridges over Cove Creek in Wythe County, located about two miles north of Interstate 81 between mile markers 44 and 42. Motorists can expect an altered traffic pattern on southbound I-77 and periodic nighttime lane closures while work is underway. (Completion: early 2023)


***Interstate 81 bridges at Atkins: A project to replace the Interstate 81 bridges near mile marker 52 in the Atkins area of Smyth County is underway. Daytime lane closures are planned April 19-22 and traffic will be restricted to one 11-foot-wide lane due to a bridge deck pour. Also alert to shoulder closures through the work zone and the possibility of lane closures on Route 11 beneath the bridges. The speed limit in the work zone is 60 mph. (Completion: Fall 2022)


Interstate 81 – bridges over Reed Creek: Due to replacement of the Interstate 81 bridges over Reed Creek in Wythe County, be alert to altered traffic patterns, narrowed lanes (11-feet-wide northbound), and nighttime lane closures in the work zone. The bridges are located about one-mile north of the I-77 split at I-81 exit 81. The speed limit through the work zone is 60 mph. Allow extra travel time and watch out for workers. (Completion: Fall 2021)


***Interstates 81 and 77 maintenance activities: This week, be alert to the following lane closures due to maintenance activities:

Interstate 81

  • 24-hour lane closure Monday through Friday due to bridge deck repairs north and southbound near exit 72 in Wythe County.
  • 24-hour lane closure southbound at exit 35 due to bridge repairs. The work zone is limited to one, 13’-wide lane while repairs are underway.
  • Daytime pothole patching north and southbound at various locations in Smyth County.
  • Daytime bridge painting at exit 67 in the Wytheville area of Wythe County.
  • Nighttime lane closure due to pavement striping work northbound between Abingdon and Fort Chiswell in Wythe County and southbound between the Fort Chiswell area of Wythe County and Bristol.

Interstate 77

  • Nighttime lane closures at East River Mountain Tunnel in Bland County the evenings of April 19-26 due to tunnel maintenance. During the nighttime lane closures, wide loads over 12-feet must stop before entering the tunnel. 




Bland County

***Route 602 (Spur Branch Road): Due to repairs to the Route 602 (Spur Branch Road) bridge in Bland County, located near the intersection of Route 601 (Little Creek Highway), be alert to the possibility of periodic lane closures weekdays. (Completion: April 2021)

Buchanan County

Route 460/121 Poplar Creek Phase A: Construction of Route 460/121 Poplar Creek Phase A is underway in Buchanan County. Impacts on motorists are minimal because the majority of the work is on a new location; however, the project has created a permanent change for Route 614 (Woods Fork). Poplar Creek Phase A will split a portion of Route 614 and cul-de-sacs will be added on either end of Route 614 where it ends at the new highway, approximately 2.75 miles from Route 609 at Bull Creek and 1.25 miles from Route 604 at Poplar Creek. Access to the north and south ends of Route 614 will be via Routes 609 (Bull Creek Road) and 604 (Poplar Creek Road), respectively, which connect to Route 460 west of Grundy. 

Lee County

Route 58 truck climbing lane at Powell Mountain: A project to add a truck climbing lane to Route 58 at Powell Mountain in Lee County is underway. The project will add a 1,000-foot truck climbing lane to the west side of Powell Mountain, improving safety by providing motorists a safer way to pass trucks along the steep grade. Be alert to periodic delays and watch for workers. (Completion: September 2021)


***Route 58 bridge over the Powell River: A new traffic pattern is in place across the Route 58 bridge over the Powell River near Jonesville in Lee County, with traffic now traveling on the newly constructed side of the bridge. Signals are controlling one-way traffic across the bridge. Use caution in this area and allow for slight travel delays. (Completion: fall 2021)

Scott County

Route 23 access improvements/Park and Ride: North and southbound traffic through the Route 23 work zone in the Gate City/Moccasin Gap area of Scott County was restricted to one lane in each direction in mid-March and will remain closed for approximately two months. The closure allows crews to remove the current median and construct a new one. Allow extra travel time, especially during morning and afternoon hours when commuter traffic volumes are high. The project will improve access, as well as add a Park and Ride lot near the intersection of Route 23 and Route 619 (Filter Plant Road). Pay close attention to work zone signs and watch for workers. (Completion: Fall 2021)


Utility Installation: Be alert to utility installation work along Route 870 (Daniel Boone Road) and connecting secondary highways near Gate City.  The project is near the quarry pond and will extend westward to Route 789 (Sarah Circle). (Completion: Spring 2021)



Tazewell County
***Tazewell Avenue Bridge Repairs (Bluefield): The Tazewell Avenue bridge in Bluefield will be closed to traffic April 19 and will remain closed approximately 6 months due to repairs. The bridge is located over Beaver Pond Creek between Walnut Street and S. College Avenue (Route 102). During repairs, motorists will use Walnut Street, Virginia Avenue, and S. College Avenue to detour (distance: .2-mile). (Completion: fall 2021)


***Allegheny Street bridge improvements in Richlands: A project to repair and replace the Allegheny Street bridge over Big Creek in Richlands is underway and the bridge is closed to traffic. The bridge is located between 3rd and 4th Street and motorists are detouring using Route 67 and 5th Street, a distance of approximately .75-mile. (Completion: late June 2021)

Route 605 (Thompson Valley):
The Route 605 road improvement project in the Thompson Valley area of Tazewell County will resume in the spring. (Completion June 2021)


Route 19 (Virginia Avenue) bridge over Wrights Valley Creek (Bluefield): Be alert to an altered traffic pattern on Route 19 at the bridge over Wrights Valley Creek near Bluefield due to reconstruction of the bridge. Use caution in the area and pay close attention to work zone signs. (Completion: July 2021)

Wythe County

Route 664 (Glade Road) bridge: Due to replacement of the Route 664 (Glade Road) bridge over Reed Creek in Wythe County, the bridge is closed to traffic and will remain closed through spring 2022. Route 664 will be closed from .99-mile east of Route 711 to 1.06-mile east of Route 711. Be alert to detour signs that will be in place before the project begins. (Completion: Spring 2022)  


Information in VDOT news releases was accurate at the time the release was published. For the most current information about projects or programs, please visit the project or program Web pages. You may find those by searching by keyword in the search Virginia DOT box above.

Page last modified: April 16, 2021