FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE SALEM 173
CONTACT: Laura Bullock
IN FRANKLIN, HENRY COUNTIES
During its monthly meeting today (June 21) in Richmond, the Commonwealth Transportation Board adjusted the location for Interstate 73 in southern Franklin County and Henry County by choosing a more easterly route. The vote to move the location was unanimous.
Members of the board first rescinded their May 17, 2001, location decision and then approved a new resolution indicating that I-73 would follow the most eastern alignment south and east of Sydnorsville, as shown to citizens during last December’s public hearings.
Specifically, the location for I-73 now follows these segments: 153 through Franklin County (unchanged) to segment 202A east of Sydnorsville, 385 near Fork Mountain, 369 across the Franklin County line, 373 east of Laurel Park (unchanged), 333 east of Carlisle and continuing south to 398, which crosses the North Carolina line along existing Route 220.
Board members indicated that the new location is a better choice for Henry County, as it reduces environmental impact and provides an easier project to design and build. The approved location affects only nine acres of wetlands, instead of 20, making the permitting process easier. Also, the new roadway will no longer be located on major portions of routes 220 and 58 bypass, thereby removing through traffic from local traffic and enhancing the safety of existing Route 220. Another factor in the decision was the importance of keeping traffic moving while construction is under way; that goal would have been more difficult to achieve if the location included large sections of Route 220.
The new location meets the purpose and need of the I-73 Location Study, undertaken by the Virginia Department of Transportation. Needs include improving system linkage and intermodal connections, as well as improving corridor safety, mobility and capacity. Another need for the road notes the potential for enhancing economic opportunities for attracting new industry and tourism, a factor also noted by the board.
Environmental data on the I-73 location is being completed by VDOT engineers, who will then forward a Final Environmental Impact Statement with specific information about the selected corridor to the Federal Highway Administration. Completion of the FEIS and approval by FHWA may take up to a year. Once FHWA issues its approval – called a Record of Decision – roadway design, right of way acquisition, and construction can begin.
Questions about the approved location for I-73 can be directed to VDOT’s Salem District Office at firstname.lastname@example.org. A Web site is available at www.vdot.state.va.us.