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Drivers deal with unfamiliar routes during detours

By David Kaplan, dkaplan@wdbj7.com
Published On: Aug 29 2013 08:34:14 PM EDT

All lanes of Interstate 81 south have re-opened. WDBJ7 went up in a helicopter to get this view of just how far the traffic was backed up earlier today.

SALEM, Va. -

The mess on Interstate 81 and Route 460 caused many to find detours around the detour Thursday.

Some drivers traveled through Catawba on Route 311 in Roanoke County to Blacksburg Road.

With Interstate 81 back open, drivers no longer need to find an alternate route.

For the neighbors who live on the back roads, seeing more traffic when drivers seek detours can be scary.

“It's not built for all this traffic,” neighbor Jeanie Johnston said.

By nature, a rural stretch of pavement like old Blacksburg Road is quaint. But not while part of Interstate 81 is shut down.

“Normally we probably have 10 to 15 in the morning go down, maybe 10 or 15 in the evening, but it's been one after the other, just constantly,” Johnston said.

Jeanie Johnston's lived on her farm for 32 years. She knows when there's this much traffic, there is either something going on at Virginia Tech or something wrong on Interstate 81.

Calvin Carney got stuck in the detour yesterday, so today he changed he took an alternate route.

“I knew I had to find another way back home,” Calvin Carney said.

Car after car found the alternative route.

“When you got 11 blocked and 81 too it'd either be this way or up Bent Mountain,” Carney said.

“I've had several people stop and ask if this was the way to Blacksburg, they're not familiar with it,” Jeanie said.

Drivers unfamiliar with the routes passing through can be an issue.

“If you don't watch what you're doing, the curves and stuff, it's bad. Especially for some of these trailers and cars that are not used to the road,” Johnston said.

And just down the road not only are there no lines, but the road narrows as well. So there's barely enough room for two cars, let alone a tractor trailer.

As drivers and VDOT collectively dealt with this headache on the eve of a travel weekend, even Johnston found it hard to be frustrated when her rural stretch of pavement wasn't so quiet.

“If I was working I would do the same thing, you know? You just gotta deal with it,” Johnston said.