"I-81 demolition derby," July 15, is extraordinarily well-written and I congratulate Don Langrehr of the Blacksburg Planning Commission for his elegant commentary. One one thing left unmentioned was the use of Norfolk Southern trackage for passenger service, which together with container trains would transfer not only many trucks from I-81 but autos as well.
Localities west of Roanoke have been demanding rail passenger service for several years, but it has been focused on extending the Roanoke-Washington-Philadelphia-New York-Boston train that originates in Roanoke. I support this service extension, but it should be recognized that station stops from Christiansburg to Bristol would be confronted with departure times in the wee hours to maintain the present schedule of departing Roanoke before 7 a.m. A better idea would be to operate a second train via Roanoke over the Valley Line paralleling I-81 from Bristol to new York City via Roanoke, Natural Bridge, Buena Vista, Stuarts Draft, Waynesboro and many other towns in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley not served by rail, bus or airline service. The train could be extended beyond Virginia to Hagerstown, Harrisburg and New York City on the NS (formerly Pennsylvania Railway) was it did in the 1960s. I took it many times from Roanoke until it was discontinued just prior to the advent of Amtrak. The advantage to travelers in Western Virginia is that it's the fastest corridor to the Northeast and provides overnight service from anywhere in Southwest Virginia. Just think: Go to bed in Bristol and wake up in New York City before breakfast!
Another bonus is that this line is less congested than the one from Roanoke to Washington and would not need double-tracking while providing overnight rail service to almost all communities serviced by I-81.
Think about it. Would you rather stretch out and get a night's sleep without fighting traffic to wherever I-81 could take you or would you rather accept the stress and risk of I-81 no matter how wide it gets?