ABINGDON, VA (WJHL-TV) – Access to Interstate 81 from Jonesboro Rd. in Abingdon is now a whole lot easier and safer.
The new north bound on ramp was opened this morning after ten months of construction. This is part of a multi-year project to improve safety and access and will consist of a new, wider bridge, new on and off ramps on the north bound side, improvements to Jonesboro Rd. and Dennison Dr. and improvements to the south bound on and off ramps when completed in the fall of 2018.
“The main component of this is modernizing the interstate ramps and the bridges, they were built when the interstate was built in the 60’s, so it’s due time to replace the bridges and the ramp design needs to be modernized.”, VDOT Communications Manager Michelle Earl said, “This is an important first step for safety, those on and off ramps were in a position that made it a weave when you were accessing the interstate or trying to access Jonesboro Rd. So this is a big safety component, separating those two modes of traffic.”
This is just the first of three planned improvements for the I-81 corridor that runs thru Abingdon.
“Abingdon has three of the busiest exits and we’re working on exit 14 now and there are projects in the works to make improvements to exit 17 and 19 as well.”, Earl said.
Since the interstate was built in the 1960’s, the ceremonial ramp opening featured around a dozen classic and muscle cars from the 60’s being the first ones up the ramp and on to the interstate.
Construction in the area continues overnight as work on the bridges and ramps will force the closure of the north bound exit ramp at exit 14 from 9 pm Thursday night, Oct. 6 thru 6 am Friday morning, Oct. 7. When the ramp closure is finished each travel lane will be 11 feet wide. The lane narrowing will remain in place until next summer when traffic is switched to the newly constructed bridge. Motorists should use cation in this area and pay close attention to work zone signs.
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