I-73 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q: What does a road from Roanoke to Martinsville have to do with the Great Lakes and South Carolina?
A: Congress passed a law in 1991 designating the proposed I-73 as a high priority corridor from the Great Lakes to the South Carolina coast. In that legislation, Congress said the highway would go from the Bluefield area into Virginia in the area of U-S Route 460, then to the Smart Road, then to I-81 and then from Roanoke to the Greensboro/Winston-Salem area. It is a link in the Interstate system.

Q: Why don't you build the road in the most direct way from Detroit to South Carolina?
A: Interstate highways are rarely built in a straight line from beginning to end. One purpose is to connect population centers, so roads--such as I-81--run north-south in some places and east-west in others.

Q: Is the section of the proposed I-73 in the New River Valley being studied?
A: No. At this time the only portion of the proposed I-73 in Virginia under study is from the Roanoke Valley to the Virginia/North Caroline state line. There is no timetable for studying the section west of the Roanoke Valley.

Q: Have you documented the need for I-73 in the first place?
A: Yes. In November 2000, we completed a thorough report, entitled "Purpose and Need for I-73.” It is part of the Final and Draft Environmental Impact Statements. Copies of the DEIS are available at VDOT offices. You can read the complete FEIS here.

Q: What is Transportation System Management?
A: Transportation System Management or TSM is a range of lower cost, less major construction and/or operational improvements, such as eliminating crossovers and adjusting the timing of traffic signals.

Q: How big is the study area?
A: We started with a wide swath on a map, about 2,500 feet wide. During the I-73 Location Study, that area was narrowed down to several bands, each about 600 feet wide. That width allows flexibility to make adjustments as construction plans are being designed. Ultimately, right of way width will be about 200-400 feet.

Q: With opposition to I-73, why are you continuing to study it?
A: The responsibility of the Virginia Department of Transportation is to conduct a thorough, factual environmental study so that the best information can be provided to decision-makers. The decision to build I-73, which was based on facts, has received the support of many people throughout this region as well as Congressional leaders.

Q: Some have said that the only interest in I-73 is for economic development. Is that true?
A: No. Providing safe and efficient travel through the Route 220 corridor is the major factor in defining a purpose and need for I-73 in Virginia. Economic development is another reason but not the primary justification. It is important to remember that I-73 would not be just a Virginia road – it will be a link in the national interstate system from the Roanoke Valley to the Greensboro area of North Carolina.

Q: Is part of the reason to build a road economic development?
A: It can be. If you read the purpose and need report on I-73, you will see that improving access to land that is planned for industrial use and improving tourism opportunities are other reasons to consider building roads. Of course, there are safety reasons. The Purpose and Need Statement documents the safety problems on Route 220, which are well known in this region.

Q: How much will it cost to build this road and where is the money coming from?
A: Cost estimates vary, and they go up each year. A very rough guess is about $4 billion. Funding for interstates is usually provided by the federal government at the rate of 90%, with 10% coming from state sources. Some money is being accumulated now, but there is no timetable for construction.

Q: Why does it take VDOT so long to plan a highway?
A: It is a long time. We must follow all required state and federal laws and regulations, and often that takes longer than we would like. Sometimes laws and regulations change while a study is under way. However, decisions about I-73 are important so it’s worth taking the time necessary to complete the study successfully.

Q: When will construction begin?
A: There is no timetable for construction. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) issued a Record of Decision in late March 2007. This approval is necessary in order to use federal money for construction. The Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) will have to decide whether or not to program money toward construction. Building I-73 most logically would be done in segments. Construction of a full interstate will take many years to complete.

Q: Where will construction begin?
A: That has not been decided. VDOT and the CTB have not determined where construction could begin. Most likely, the road will be built in segments. VDOT will work with local, state and national elected officials to identify segments for initial designs. I-73 in Virginia will reflect a “context sensitive solution” design wherever possible. As defined by the Federal Highway Administration, context sensitive solutions involve affected citizens, officials, business and property owners and others in developing “a transportation facility that fits its physical setting and preserves scenic, aesthetic, historic and environmental resources, while maintaining safety and mobility.”

Q: If VDOT needs my property for this road, how much will they pay me?
A: VDOT assures that property is purchased at fair market prices, and relocation and moving expenses are paid, too. No actual construction plans have been drawn up, so it’s a little too early to determine exactly which properties may be affected. Any questions about the proximity of a certain property to the selected I-73 location can be directed to VDOT’s Salem District Office at (540) 387-5320 or 1-800-611-5812. You also can call local VDOT offices in Martinsville, Rocky Mount and Salem. TDD/TTY users can dial 711.

Q: What advice do you have for homeowners or businesses that may be affected by I-73?
A: Keep up your property so that it maintains its value. VDOT pays fair market value. Keep up-to-date with the study by checking our Web site at www.VirginiaDOT.org. Call your local VDOT office with any questions.

Q: What obligation does VDOT have to communicate with REALTORS?
A: VDOT has no responsibility to REALTORS beyond its obligation to the general public. REALTORS have an obligation to be aware of projects that might impact real estate they are selling and to notify prospective buyers.

Page last modified: Oct. 14, 2012