VDOT to Decrease Collisions Along I-81 Work Zones

Oct. 26, 2022
The area has seen a lot of crashes in the past two years

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) is attempting to cut down on traffic collisions on I-81 between exits 137 and 141 by working with contractors, which has lead to traffic backup.

In order to decrease the crashes, crews are putting more warning signs and messages at the highway entrance. Workers are also adding more reflective barrels lined up along the highway. VDOT is hoping that these preventative measures will decrease the numbers of crashes in the area.

The area has seen a good amount of collisions in the four-mile construction zone. From January to October 2021, there were 96 crashes in the work zone, and in the same time period in 2022, there has been 99 crashes.

A spokesperson with VDOT explained the crashes seem to be more visible with the longer traffic delays.

“People are more aware of the crashes that are occurring in the worksite and particularly with some of the delays that drivers have experienced in the traffic queues clearing the worksite,” Jason Bond, communications manager for VDOT said in an interview with WDBJ7.com.

The delays are prompting VDOT to work with construction contractors.

“We are looking at installing a system with flashing beacons on the truck entering highway signs at exit 140,” Bond said. “We’re also looking at putting some lighting on the barricade walls.”

Bond explained that speeding is the main issue in work zones when both shoulders on the highway are closed.

“Exceeding the posted speed limit appears to be a contributing factor for many of the crashes that have occurred in the work zone,” Bond said. “We are coordinating with Virginia State Police to explore some enhanced enforcement options.”

The Virginia State Highway Patrol explained in an email how enforcement may be difficult with limited road space.

“The Troopers will handle enforcement when they observe a violation in the work zone, and will respond to crashes as needed,” Sergeant Richard Garletts said to WDBJ7.com. “Work zones always present difficulties with enforcement, due to the restricted space.”

The project that is part of a $2 billion improvement project along I-81 is expected to be complete in 2026. The next phase of the project is to widen the highway near exit 143 and 150.


Source: WDBJ7.com

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