Alliance Transportation Lead Kim Sandum attended the second meeting of the I-81 Committee and had some good progress to report out. The committee was created in the 2019 legislation that adopted the I-81 Corridor Improvement Plan and established a funding source for the projects through various fuel taxes.
1. Time was spent discussing criteria the committee would use to rank the projects outlined in the plan. This is important because there is a lot of work to be done and this process will clarify the best places to start.
2. For years, we’ve been advocating for multimodal solutions for I-81 (think less one-driver-to-one-car (or truck) scenarios and more freight on rail and passenger options like bus service). Kim asked about progress on this front as the plan directs the committee to study these types of solutions. The report is that Department of Rail and Public Transportation is currently gathering data in order to make recommendations at the next meeting.
3. Even though the big, pavement-oriented projects in the plan are still being prioritized, the corridor has already seen a suite of safety improvements. Some you may not have noticed like 13 more traffic monitoring cameras, more towing companies on call and plans developed for detour routes for when there is a backup. But some improvements you’ve probably noticed! Flashing chevrons (pictured above) have been installed at three high-incident locations where the interstate curves. Additionally, there are increased safety patrols, both new trucks and increased operating times as well as more digital signs alerting drivers to conditions ahead.
The process of implementing the plan is slow, but deliberate, and we appreciate the attention to targeted solutions that ultimately address the safety issues at less cost to you, the taxpayer, and with less impact on the neighboring ag land and communities.
The next committee meeting will be scheduled in the spring, after the General Assembly session ends. We’ll keep you posted!
You can find the materials from the second I-18 Committee meeting here: http://www.ctb.virginia.gov/projects/major_projects/i-81_study.asp