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There are ways for drivers to avoid Elm Avenue. Find them. Start at today’s open house.
Thursday, April 11, 2013
The Virginia Department of Transportation will hold an open house today to share with drivers its plan to manage chaos during the reconstruction of Roanoke’s most challenging intersection with Interstate 581.
The Elm Avenue intersection with its many and confusing connecting streets is already the bane of commuters. At any given hour, cars and trucks are stuck between signals — their drivers prepared to jump across lanes — because the central knot of Roanoke’s otherwise tangle-free system of streets is an unavoidable jumble.
That’s why the $20 million project is so essential to clot-bust the congestion.
Native Roanokers, and those who have been here more than a month, already have committed to memory two central commands: Avoid Elm Avenue during morning and evening commutes. If nearing the interchange while on Interstate 581, give it wide berth. Failure to heed this rule may result in a rear-end collision.
Once work to widen lanes, ramps and bridges begins this summer, drivers would do well to add one other rule: Avoid Elm Avenue all other times of day.
In working out your go-around, stick to main thoroughfares. You wouldn’t want your street turned into a high-speed cut-through, so don’t do that to the folks living in Southeast, Old Southwest or South Roanoke. Or you could just suck it up and sit through the construction congestion. VDOT will do its best to “manage” the backups, but we rest confident predicting it’ll get ugly out there. Imagine it’s late Friday afternoon and Miranda Lambert is playing at the Civic Center kind of ugly.
If you want to hear how the VDOT traffic experts plan to handle this, drop by the Jackson Park Library between 5 and 7 p.m. today. Yes, you might have to drive through this interchange at the worst time of day to attend. But consider it a trial run for the next two years.
Still, construction ought to fly by much faster than the interminable wait to get this project going. Thank goodness it was “shovel ready” back in 2010 when federal stimulus funds materialized.
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