Wildlife advocates weigh in on I-81 expansion
Each year, nearly 12 million trucks use Interstate 81 in Virginia. To ease congestion between exits 143 and 150, the Department of Transportation plans to widen the road to three lanes in each direction. A similar project is already underway in the Salem area.
Officials invite public comment, and animal lovers are weighing in – suggesting the project include fencing that funnels critters to underpasses where they can safely cross. Jessica Roberts is with the non-profit Wild Virginia.
“The Virginia Transportation Research Council did some research along I-64 west of Charlottesville, and they put up this fencing to direct animals into two existing underpasses," she explains. "It reduced vehicle crashes around 90%, and it also increased wildlife use of those culverts by 400% in some areas.”
She also hopes the state will add warning signs to slow traffic and flashing lights to let drivers know if a large animal – like a deer, bear or elk – is crossing ahead. You can send comments on these and other ideas for improving I-81 until September 29th by mail or e-mail. Road widening work around Roanoke is set to begin in 2025.
For more information about I-81 improvements go to
To learn more about collisions involving animals, write to
And to share your ideas about improving I-81, go to: