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Traffic changes coming for Route 221 construction project in Roanoke County

It will still be another year before the project is finished.

August 13, 2012|Justin McLeod | WDBJ7 Reporter
Justin McLeod/WDBJ7

ROANOKE CO., Va. — It’s one of the largest road construction projects going on in our region.

We're talking about the Route 221 between the Cave Spring and Back Creek area of Roanoke County.

Crews having been working on the project for two years, and it will still be one more year before it’s finished.

When this project first started, there were a lot of delays for drivers.

They are not as frequent these days, but more changes coming in the next few months that will impact the commute.

Anyone who drives Route 221 knows the problem.

It's a windy road famous for its "S" curve and for the big backups near Cotton Hill Road.

“Especially at five o'clock when everybody was getting off of work, traffic would be backed up and if you were trying to turn onto Cotton Hill people would be slamming on their brakes,” Roanoke County resident Jaime Vankerckhove said.

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So two years ago, the Virginia Department of Transportation started a $20 million project to widen Route 221 from two lanes to four from Crystal Creek Drive to Cotton Hill.

The project includes two new bridges over Back Creek and replacing the existing bridge on Cotton Hill.

When it's all said and done, the dangerous curve will be history.

“It's about 60% complete right now.  We have another a whole year left of this project but we are reaching the end of the road,” Virginia Department of Transportation Jamie Smith said.

Drivers can expect some major changes sometime this fall.

The state plans to shift both directions of traffic off of Route 221 onto the newly constructed southbound lanes.

The new traffic pattern will be in place throughout the winter.

“We need people to be patient and they have been very patient thus far so when that new traffic pattern comes in they will just need to be alert and to make sure they follow the signs that have been in place,” Smith said.

Drivers can expect another traffic shift either next spring or summer when VDOT opens the new bridges.

More inconveniences, but nearby residents say it will be worth it because the road will be safer.

“It will definitely be worth it after the project is completed.  You know it's a little traffic but it will be awesome when it's finished,” Vankerckhove said.

In a few weeks, the state will have to stop traffic during the day for about 10 to 15 minutes when the beams arrive for one of the bridges.

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