A major Virginia Department of Transportation project that begins this spring will significantly change the entrances to the south end of the Virginia Tech campus.
VDOT will build a new grade-separated interchange to replace the intersection of Southgate Drive and U.S. 460 and relocate Research Center Drive to allow for the expansion of the Virginia Tech Montgomery Executive Airport. The new interchange and roads should be open for traffic in late 2018, according to VDOT's schedule.
The $38.7 million project was approved by the Commonwealth Transportation Board at its monthly meeting Wednesday. Branch Highways Inc. out of Roanoke, Virginia, was selected as the contractor.
“This is an important project for Virginia Tech and the entire region. It will improve safety and traffic and create a beautiful entrance to campus,” said Sherwood Wilson, vice president for administration.
The new interchange will be built approximately 1,900 feet southeast from the current traffic signal on U.S. 460. It will allow for possible expansion of the Corporate Research Center to university land on the southwest side of U.S. 460.
A new Southgate Drive will carry vehicles from the interchange to a roundabout at Duck Pond Drive.
Construction of the interchange will begin this spring. Initial work will take place along U.S. 460 and VDOT expects little impact to traffic. The Dairy Science Complex is being moved to Kentland Farm prior to the start of construction.
Research Center Drive
Research Center Drive and part of the Huckleberry Trail are being relocated to allow for the extension of the Virginia Tech Montgomery Executive Airport runway and safety zone. The 1,000 foot extension will permit use by larger airplanes and help support the region’s economic development efforts.
“The larger runway and the new interchange, which will allow for the possible future expansion of the Corporate Research Center, will help boost the economy of the Town of Blacksburg and the entire region,” said Wilson.
The new Research Center Drive will roughly follow an existing farm road and connect Innovation Drive in the Corporate Research Center to a roundabout intersection with the new Southgate Drive.
Work is expected to begin this summer with minimal traffic impacts expected.
Further details about the project and specific impacts will be shared with the university community as they become available.
For more information, including maps and videos, visit VDOT’s Southgate Connector website.
Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech takes a hands-on, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers 240 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 31,000 students and manages a research portfolio of $513 million. The university fulfills its land-grant mission of transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia.
Artist rendering of new Southgate interchange bridge
The proposed Southgate interchange bridge showing the Virginia Tech name and shield as seen from Route 460.