WINCHESTER — Contractors for the Virginia Department of Transportation have begun ramp improvements at four interchanges along Interstate 81 in Shenandoah and Frederick counties, a VDOT news release says.

The upgrades include the extension of acceleration and deceleration lanes (on- and off-ramps) at the following I-81 exits:

Exit 269 (Shenandoah Caverns) – Deceleration lane from northbound I-81 onto Route 730 (Caverns Road).

Exit 279 (Edinburg) – Acceleration lane from Route 185 (Stoney Creek Road) onto southbound I-81.

Exit 283 (Woodstock) – Acceleration lane from Route 42 (Reservoir Road) onto southbound I-81.

Exit 302 (Middletown) Acceleration lane from Route 627 (Reliance Road) onto northbound I-81, and deceleration lane from northbound I-81 onto Route 627

On March 30, VDOT awarded a $2,153,924 contract to General Excavation Inc. of Warrenton for the I-81 ramp extensions. The project has a contract completion date of Nov. 20. All work is weather permitting.

This week contractors began placing concrete barriers along the right shoulders of I-81 at exits 269, 279 and 283. Barrier installation requires overnight right lane closures. The barriers will remain in place 24/7 to protect the work zones during construction of the ramp extensions. Motorists can expect occasional on- or off-ramp closures during overnight hours at these interchanges through early August.

The I-81 interchange upgrades will improve safety and traffic operations by allowing vehicles to more effectively accelerate with interstate traffic, or slow to exit at the interchange. The upgrades are part of the I-81 Corridor Improvement Program approved by the Commonwealth Transportation Board in December 2019. The $2 billion package of targeted improvements was funded by the Virginia General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. Ralph Northam in spring 2019.

When work at the first three interchanges is complete, contractors will begin work on the acceleration and deceleration lanes for northbound I-81 at exit 302. At all locations, variable message boards will alert drivers to specific ramp closures and detour routes.

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