SALEM — Virginia Tech in coordination with the Virginia Department of Transportation held a ribbon-cutting ceremony today to open VDOT's new diverging diamond interchange on Route 460 that will lead drivers onto Southgate Drive and into Virginia Tech or to the relocated Research Center Drive to the Virginia Tech Montgomery Executive Airport and the Corporate Research Center. The new interchange, only the second of its kind in the region, will officially be open to traffic December 14.
“We’re happy to see this day for many reasons, including improved safety, a beautiful new entrance to our campus, and better access to the growing infrastructure that supports our vision for the university’s future,” said Virginia Tech President Tim Sands. “We’re grateful to everyone who made this happen, including past and present governors, legislators and staff, the Commonwealth Transportation Board, Branch Highways, and VDOT. Virginia is very fortunate to have an innovative Department of Transportation that is willing to work collaboratively with institutions like ours to develop the future of our region.”
About the Project
The $46.7-million VDOT project replaces the signalized intersection at Route 460 and Southgate Drive at the entrance to Virginia Tech with a diverging diamond interchange. It eliminates the last at-grade signalized intersection on Route 460 from the I-81 interchange and the Town of Narrows. In addition, two new bridges were constructed over the Route 460 Bypass for the interchange and three underpasses for the trail network were constructed or extended.
When the new interchange opens, drivers coming to Virginia Tech from Route 460 will use the new interchange to access Southgate Drive. The existing signal at Southgate Drive will be deactivated and the ramps at the interchange will take drivers onto Southgate Drive. In addition, Research Center Drive will be relocated and extend to the CRC and the existing Research Center Drive will be renamed Beamer Way and will temporarily extend through to Innovation Drive until Beamer Way is closed at the Huckleberry Trail crossing in 2018.
Benefits of the Diverging Diamond Interchange
A new and innovative design, the diverging diamond interchange increases safety and moves a higher volume of vehicles without increasing the number of lanes. A diverging diamond interchange
- Reduces congestion by allowing traffic to keep moving through an intersection
- Improves safety by allowing free flowing turns when entering or exiting the roadway, eliminating left turns against oncoming traffic and reducing the number of traffic signal phases
- Provides better sight distance at turns and fewer chances to conflict with other vehicles, which results in fewer crashes.
Driving through the Diverging Diamond Interchange
When driving through the interchange, drivers will travel temporarily to the left side of the road.
- Proceed through the traffic signal at the entrance to the interchange and follow their lane to the opposite side of the roadway.
- Pay close attention and follow signs and pavement markings that will guide them through the interchange.
- Be patient with other drivers in the area.
Resources for drivers, including graphics and videos, are available on VDOT’s website at www.virginiadot.org/VTGateway.
Drivers can join the conversation now on Twitter by sharing their experience driving through the new interchange at #VTGateway.