Recently Completed: Interstate 81 S-Curve Safety Improvements Southbound Mile Markers 167.4 to 169.5 Botetourt County

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The purpose of this project was to reduce crashes by implementing relatively low-cost, safety improvements on southbound I-81 between mile markers 167.4 and 169.5.  This location in previous years has had one of the highest crash rates along the entire I-81 corridor in Virginia.

The proposed safety improvements were intended to reduce conflicts between vehicles and prevent run-off-the-road type crashes.  The improvements for this project included:

  • Repaving the shoulders and travel lanes and modifying the curve banking
  • Widening the shoulders along the outside lane and in the median between Purgatory Creek and a point approximately 0.24 miles south of the Exit 167 bridge to provide more room for vehicles to recover
  • Applying a treatment to the shoulders and travel lanes to improve roadway traction, particularly in wet and otherwise slick conditions
  • Closing and removing the southbound off ramp at Exit 167 (Buchanan) to reduce speed differentials, conflict points and lane changes associated with exiting vehicles
  • Applying enhanced pavement markings to improve nighttime and wet roadway visibility
  • Replacing guardrail

Approximately 20,000 vehicles use this section of southbound I-81 each day.


Since 2012, VDOT has implemented similar safety measures in both directions on I-81 in this area, which have contributed to lowering the crash rate in the northbound direction by 55 percent.  However, the crash rate in the southbound direction had only been reduced by 18 percent, so additional improvements are being considered.

The proposed safety improvements are intended to reduce conflicts between vehicles and prevent run-off-the-road type crashes.


Contact Info:

James Hinkle

Project Photos

Phase: In Design

Lat/Long: 37.547870, -79.666661

Locality: Botetourt

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Page last modified: Feb. 9, 2022