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Corridor Study


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  • Although much discussion has centered on the possible expansion of I-81 in Virginia, no plans or proposals can be implemented without the approval and concurrence of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). Because the interstate system is federally funded, any proposed changes to the highway must comply with all federal laws, including the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Learn more about NEPA.

    In accordance with NEPA, in the fall of 2003 FHWA and VDOT launched an I-81 Corridor Improvement Study. The study will objectively identify deficiencies along the interstate as well as opportunities for improvements throughout the corridor in Virginia. As a result of the study, a Tier One Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) was released to the public Nov. 29, 2005.

    The EIS considers reasonable improvement concepts for the heavily traveled I-81 corridor. Some of these concepts include opportunities for separation of trucks and passenger vehicles, as well as rail improvements. In addition, the study evaluates tolling as a funding source.

    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. Tier One is now under way. VDOT held six public hearings along the I-81 corridor about the Tier One DEIS in April 2006. Learn more about the public hearings.

    The Commonwealth Transportation Board issued a resolution at their October 11, 2006 meeting supporting a series of safety improvements, a frieght rail study and the completion of the I-81 Corridor Improvement Study. As a result of this resolution, VDOT completed the Tier One Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) in late March 2007.

    When the Tier One EIS is complete, decisions on the following will be made:

    Negotiations continue with STAR Solutions as a potential business partner to build improvements to I-81 that may be selected by the Commonwealth Transportation Board. Negotiations are proceeding under Virginia's Public-Private Partnership Act of 1995.

    The Tier One study divided I-81 into eight segments for further detailed analysis, which could be performed in Tier Two studies. After completion of Tier 2, FHWA may authorize use of federal funds for VDOT to begin designing construction plans for future improvements.

    To assist in completing the Tier One EIS in accordance with NEPA, VDOT has contracted with the Massachusetts-based firm of Vanasse Hangen Brustlin Inc. (VHB).

    Please see our Frequently Asked Questions to learn more about the study.