BRISTOL, Va. - If you travel around the Exit 7 area in Bristol, Virginia, you've probably noticed traffic gets backed up during rush hour and on the weekends.
We have some bad news -- we've learned the problem may get worse before it gets better.
Traffic congestion off Interstate 81 at Exit 7 in Bristol, Virginia isn't anything new, but it could get worse once construction starts this week. "At the red light to turn left to get on the interstate, I usually have maybe a less than five minutes wait. It's mainly more hectic on the weekends, on Friday, when I'm leaving here from work," said motorist Michael Ragan.
Ragan works at Function Better Therapy Services near Exit 7. He tells us the construction could keep patients from coming. "We're glad that they are addressing some of these deficiencies at the exit, but at the same time we do feel like the increased traffic congestion will cause some inconveniences for us and our patients," he said.
Virginia Department of Transportation spokesperson Michelle Earl tells us the project will widen underneath the bridge, adding additional lanes. "Our goal is to handle the amount of traffic that we currently have with hopes of being able to handle some of the future traffic that's going to be in the area," she explained.
The project carries a price tag of $3.4 million.
We learned there will be lane closures with the construction. "It's going to be a very active work zone. It'll have some changes every week. It may change, so just be alert," adds Earl.
That's why VDOT is encouraging people to use different routes. "Just try to rethink your trip. Exit 5, Exit 10 are good options if you can just start retraining your brain to take those," Earl said.
Michael Ragan tells us his office is working to make sure people know the alternate routes. "We are going to relay information to our patients about the other options that they do have in order to make it here," he said.
Earl tells us the construction is expected to be finished by the summer of 2015 if the weather cooperates.