Valley View Interchange Offers Alternate Options

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VDOT plans show the proposed layout of the new interchange on I-581.

VDOT plans show the proposed layout of the new interchange on I-581.

by Valerie Garner

With Governor McDonnell’s transportation bill passing both the Senate Monday and the House Appropriations Committee the week before, the proposed Valley View interchange  has been moved to the front burner. City Council members were briefed on the project Monday and if all goes well the Virginia Department of Transportation will hold a public hearing in June.

The Federal Highway Administration is looking for the project to be “shovel-ready” or ready to go, their preferred terminology. Project preparation by the city engineering department has been ongoing for the last two years. The state has kept the interchange’s completion dormant for more then 10 years.

The interchange has decreased in size since its last visit to the drawing board. Reduction in collector roads has decreased the price tag slightly. The estimated cost is now $62 million according to Mark Jamison, Roanoke City’s Transportation Manager. It won’t be costing the city one dime as there is no requirement for the city to match funds.

“The biggest part of the initial engineering piece was to develop the interchange modification report which is currently at the Federal Highway Administration awaiting approval … that’s the key piece on how the interchange might function,” said Jamison.

The interchange will require traffic signals to accommodate a more complex traffic pattern.

Noise analysis results have revealed that sound levels will exceed established criteria. The adjoining neighborhood will determine whether noise barriers will be placed to mitigate the increase in traffic noise. It will require 50 percent of the of the affected property owners’ approval. This means some spots could have the barriers and others may not. The Melrose-Rugby neighborhood will be part of the approval process and visits are underway.

About 200 property owners will get a certified letter asking them to vote for or against the barrier. No response will automatically mean a “no” vote. “Communication to the neighbors is essential,” explained City Manager Chris Morrill.  “People will also have to think about the viewshed there as well,” said Morrill.

The cost of additional roads off the interchange will be borne by any future developer – unless the city negotiates differently. The modification plan was designed to allow for road extensions into the 100 acres that will then be open for development. Jamison expects developers to “come knocking” fairly quickly as soon as completion of the interchange is secured.