Toll-free number, safety service patrols I-77 construction

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Motorists who travel through the Interstate 77 Big Walker Mountain and East River Mountain tunnels in Virginia may notice two new efforts to help keep them informed and safe.

To keep motorists informed about travel conditions through the tunnel work zones, the Virginia Department of Transportation has established a new toll-free phone number, (866) 7-TUNNEL. Messages on the toll-free number will give motorists real-time information about how traffic is moving through the tunnel work zones.

In addition to the new toll-free phone number, VDOT’s Safety Service Patrol program will begin patrols along I-77 between Exits 24 and 58 and I-81 between Exits 70 and 86.

VDOT’s Safety Service Patrol assists stranded motorists and provides traffic control during traffic incidents. The patrollers wear bright, highly visible uniforms and drive specially equipped white trucks. When possible, the patrol will:

  • Jump-start vehicles;
  • Provide gasoline or diesel fuel;
  • Provide water;
  • Change tires;
  • Start debris removal in the event of an accident;
  • Provide cellular telephone service to a disabled motorist;
  • Provide directions and a state map; and
  • Provide CPR and limited first aid until emergency services arrive.
  • VDOT’s Safety Service Patrol will be available to motorists from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. each day.

    In the coming weeks, motorists can anticipate 24/7 northbound lane closures at northbound Big Walker Mountain Tunnel due to installation of a barrier wall along the side walls of the tunnel.

    The 24/7 closures are necessary to allow the concrete to cure properly and to keep motorists a safe distance from the concrete forms and the anchor bolts used during the curing process.

    The completion date for the rehabilitation project is December 2008. Morning travel remains the best option for avoiding delays through the work zones. Additionally, there are detour routes motorists can take:

  • Between West Virginia and Tennessee, Route 19 from Bluefield to Abingdon is suggested. The road is four lanes wide the entire length. Route 19 can be accessed off I-81 Exit 14 at Abingdon and off I-77 Exit 66 at Bluefield;
  • Between Princeton, W.Va., and Blacksburg, Route 460 is suggested. The road is four lanes wide for the entire length. Route 460 can be accessed off I-77 Exit 9 in West Virginia and off I-81 Exit 118B near Christiansburg; and
  • Between North Carolina and West Virginia, motorists can use Route 52 in Virginia from Wytheville to Rocky Gap. Route 52 is a scenic, but curvy, mountainous road suitable for automobiles. It is not recommended for box trucks or larger vehicles. This is a reasonable alternative to traveling through the tunnels in the afternoon. It can be accessed in Virginia off I-81 Exit 70 and from Route 460 in Bluefield.
  • Loads more than 12 feet wide can use Route 19 or Route 460 as the detour during lane closures at the tunnels.