In Design: Interstate 81 Harrisonburg-Area Widening (Exit 243 to Exit 247)

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The purpose of the project is to address existing and future capacity needs, improve operational safety and reliability, limit impacts to existing access ramps and interchanges, and repair or replace deficient bridge components within the project. Specific improvements include:

  • One additional lane northbound and southbound from approximately one mile south of the exit 243 (Route 11) interchange near Pleasant Valley Road to approximately one mile north of the exit 247 (Route 33/East Market Street) interchange.
  • Repair, widen and/or replace the existing mainline bridges within the project limits.
  • Maintain or improve operational safety with the installation of concrete median barrier and through improved signs and pavement markings.
  • Make sensible use of existing pavement and rights-of way to accomplish the capacity improvements.
  • Proposed noise barrier installation based on VDOT noise analysis.

In 2019 Route I-81 through Harrisonburg had an average daily traffic count of 58,000 vehicles per day.  By the design year of 2047 the estimated average daily traffic volume is 81,300 vehicles per day.

The total estimated cost for this project is $320 million, including $22 million for preliminary engineering, $10.2 million for right of way and $288 million for construction.

The project is part of the I-81 Corridor Improvement Program (CIP), which aims to improve safety, increase reliability and foster economic growth along the 325-mile corridor. The Commonwealth Transportation Board approved the I-81 CIP in December 2018. The $2 billion package of targeted improvements was funded by the Virginia General Assembly and signed into law in spring 2019. More information about the program is available at


The project is one of a series of corridor improvements to I-81. This project improves safety and traffic flow northbound and southbound on Interstate 81 in the Harrisonburg area by providing an additional travel lane. It will ease existing congestion and provide for future capacity needs.

Major Milestones 

Project plan approval - Early 2023

Right of Way - Late 2023

Construction advertisement - Summer 2025

Page last modified: Sept. 1, 2023