Michelle Earl 276-696-3283
Oct. 6, 2016
New Interstate 81 Exit 14 on ramp opens to traffic
Major safety component of multi-year project completed in nine months
BRISTOL— A major safety improvement will start benefiting motorists today on the Interstate 81 exit 14 project, just nine months after the project began.
The newly constructed northbound Interstate 81 exit 14 on ramp opens to traffic today, separating the northbound on and off ramps and providing a key safety enhancement.
In tribute to when the interstate was first built, 1960s vehicles were the first to take to the new ramp.
“When exit 14 was opened in the 1960s, traffic needs were worlds apart from today’s needs,” Rob Griffith, P.E., VDOT Bristol Construction Engineer, said. “Fast-forward sixty years and thousands more vehicles per day on I-81 – including 40% truck traffic in some areas - and you can see the great need for this improvement.”
The new northbound on ramp will improve safety for motorists by eliminating the existing cloverleaf loops that forced northbound traffic exiting I-81 to weave among vehicles entering the interstate because they shared the same short acceleration/deceleration lane.
“Although we have much left to do, today’s milestone is significant,” Robert Baker, P.E., Area Construction Engineer, said. “It’s not every project we construct where you have such a vast improvement so early in the game.”
The project to reconstruct the Interstate 81 exit 14 interchange in Abingdon was awarded in late 2015 and work began in January.
W-L Construction & Paving, Inc., Chilhowie, Va., received the $29 million contract which includes replacement of the two interstate bridges over Route 647 (Old Jonesboro Road); separation of the northbound exit and entrance ramps; widening of Old Jonesboro Road; modification of Dennison Drive; and adding signals at the ramp intersections.
For the next few months, motorists can expect nighttime lane closures on I-81 southbound and northbound due to bridge reconstruction. Motorists can expect day and nighttime lane closures on Old Jonesboro Road and Dennison Drive due to utility work, retaining wall construction and embankment construction along Dennison Drive.
The entire project is currently scheduled to be complete fall 2018.
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