Public hearings planned for I-81 widening in Virginia

| 3/21/2006

It’s time for people interested in the possible widening of Interstate 81 in Virginia to put their money where their mouths are.

The Virginia Department of Transportation has scheduled six public hearings in April to discuss possible options and collect input on the I-81 Corridor Improvement Study.

Some of the ideas floating around – and nothing is concrete yet, according to a VDOT spokeswoman – include a proposal for truck tolling lanes. Virginia lawmakers have already laid the groundwork for funding mechanisms that include tolling.

“Certainly the trucking industry is real interested in I-81,” VDOT public affairs spokeswoman Laura Bullock said. “It’s a very important freight corridor.”

She said the public meetings are part of a federal process and a forum for people to speak their minds on the different proposals.

Meetings are scheduled from 5 to 8 p.m. at the following locations and include presentations, videos and testimony by the public:

  • Tuesday, April 11, Roanoke Wyndham Hotel, 2801 Hershberger Road, Roanoke.
  • Tuesday, April 11, Wytheville Community College, 1000 E. Main St., Wytheville.
  • Wednesday, April 12, Bristol Holiday Inn & Conference Center, 3005 Linden Drive, Bristol.
  • Monday, April 17, Natural Bridge Hotel & Conference Center, 15 Appledore Lane, Natural Bridge.
  • Tuesday, April 18, Winchester Travel Lodge, 160 Front Royal Pike, Winchester.
  • Wednesday, April 19, Turner Ashby High School, 800 N. Main St., Bridgewater.

The public can view exhibit items from 1 to 4 p.m. prior to each meeting, with the exception of April 19. The exhibit can be viewed on that day from 1 to 4 p.m. at a VDOT regional office, 3536 N. Valley Pike, Harrisonburg.

If you cannot make the meetings but would like to comment, you may do so by e-mailing comments to, or filling out the online comment form at

Mail can be directed to Christopher Collins, project manager, VDOT Environmental Division, 1401 E. Broad St., Richmond, VA, 23219.

The deadline for submitting public comments is April 29, when the study will enter a series of review and analysis phases before the approval stage.

– By David Tanner, staff writer