Work begins on I-81 bridge replacement near Radford


Photo courtesy of VDOT
The aerial view shows the current layout as motorists approach Exit 105 on I-81. A new northbound bridge over the New River will include an extended deceleration lane for traffic exiting the interstate that will replace the current loop on the right side of the photo.

Crews began work this week on the demolition of the State Route 232 near Radford. The bridge is being removed to allow for the expansion of lanes on I-81 as construction begins on a new bridge crossing over the New River at the Montgomery-Pulaski county lines.

Jason Bond with the Virginia Department of Transportation said motorists should expect alternating left and right, north and southbound lane closures in place as the work begins.

“The new northbound I-81 bridge will have an extended deceleration lane for traffic exiting at exit 105 and wider shoulders than the current bridge, which was originally constructed in 1965. Because of the extended deceleration lane and the wider shoulder width of the new bridge, the Route 232 bridge over I-81 at exit 105 also had to be replaced,” he said.

The Route 232 bridge will be removed in sections with portions of the new bridge built so two lanes of traffic can continue to cross.

“The idea is to keep lanes of traffic open across the bridge. The northbound side of the bridge is where work will start. The parapet has been removed and the contractor is currently working on the deck slab,” said Bonds.

According to VDOT’s schedule, the third and final phase of work on the Route 232 bridge will be completed sometime in the last half of 2018.

In addition, nighttime lane closures with slow rolls will be in place throughout the month as old beams are removed from the bridge. Slow rolls will be 15-20 minute in length so motorists should plan their travel accordingly.

The speed limit has also been reduced to 60 mph in the immediate work zone in and around exit 105.

The new I-81 bridge will be built in the median parallel to the existing structure with the estimated completion date for the overall project in the fall of 2020. The total cost had a price tag of $48 million with the contract being awarded to Vecellio and Grogan Inc. of Beckley, West Virginia.

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