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I-81 truck climbing lane nearing completion

By David Kaplan, dkaplan@wdbj7.com
Published On: Nov 07 2013 05:03:07 PM EST
Updated On: Nov 07 2013 07:39:24 PM EST

Crews are putting the finishing touches on the 5 mile stretch

ROANOKE, Va. -

It's almost done: the truck climbing lanes on Interstate 81 South in Montgomery County.    

The Virginia Department of Transportation expects the last road crew to roll off 8 days from now.

A welcome sight for the people who drive through the area and the people who live nearby.

"When it was backed up we had to wait," Ironto resident Donna Radcliff said.

The $75 million dollar project was five miles long and 12 feet wide.

Widening the road meant blasting away some of the rocks.

That meant closing the interstate, mostly at night and diverting traffic onto Route 11/460.

When that road got backed up, it was a nightmare for travelers, businesses and people who live along that road.

"I said I just learned on 81 they shut down the road at this time. So you either get past it on 81 or you get on 460 before the traffic hits," said Taylor Daniels.

"Traffic goes through here. It was always blocked, local customers can't come here. They cannot come period because traffic is completely blocked," convenience store owner Rakesh Patel said.

"I think everybody over on this side will be very glad, it's hectic," Gary Sisson, a Montgomery County resident added.

Closures during the daytime were limited, but happened.

The most memorable came in late August of this year, right before Labor Day weekend when an unstable rock slope closed 81.

We took a helicopter up to show you the 10-mile backup on 81 that stretched into Roanoke County.

Now, the long lines getting onto the Route 11/460 detour are done.

The contractor is putting on the finishing touches; adding rumble strips and getting rid of all the equipment.

With just over a week left to go, there will be mobile lane closures to put those finishing touches on, so be conscious of those crews when you're driving.

VDOT is just happy the project will be completely done by the holiday travel season.