Kernstown exit work clogs traffic

Northbound traffic along Tasker Road in Frederick County is bumper-to-bumper in a single lane near state Route 37 on Tuesday evening. Rich Cooley/Daily

STEPHENS CITY – Motorists can expect a few more weeks of traffic congestion around the Interstate 81 Exit 310 and Kernstown.

Crews continue to build a reconfigured interchange at state Route 37 and U.S. Route 11 that involves the realignment of Tasker Road and Hillandale Lane. But workers with General Excavation Inc. closed two of the three lanes from Tasker Road to Route 37 about two weeks ago, leading to traffic congestion at peak hours. The Virginia Department of Transportation expects all three lanes to reopen by the end of August, spokesman Ken Slack said Tuesday.

“There’s a little bit of interim congestion as the construction is going on but it should be short-lived and, by the time they get to the end of August, I think folks will see a huge difference out there,” Slack said.

The project calls for the creation of a “spread-diamond” interchange that, once complete, should alleviate traffic back-ups onto the interstate, according to information from VDOT. The design spreads the ramps outward and widens them with dual right- and left-turn lanes. Slack explained that the on- and off-ramps will be relocated farther east from the interstate. The new Tasker Road is roughly 3/10ths of a mile longer than the current section that VDOT is closing.

However, to make room for the new ramps, the design calls for the relocation of Tasker Road and Hillandale Lane intersection on the east side of the interchange. The design calls for a new ramp from Route 37 westbound that curves around onto the west side of Route 11. The project also includes a traffic signal at the end of the new ramp.

Todd Stevens, Staunton District construction engineer for VDOT, said this week that the closing of two of the three lanes for Route 37 traffic coming from Tasker Road starting June 14 has caused delays.

VDOT expects to open two of the three lanes near the I-81 northbound ramps by the end of July, though motorists might still experience delays, Stevens said. VDOT expects to complete the entire eastern end of the project by the end of August, though reaching these benchmarks depends on the contractor’s progress and weather, Stevens added.

VDOT expects construction of the I-81 southbound ramps and the Route 11 ramp to continue through the fall. The state awarded the $25 million contract to the Warrenton firm to construct the project scheduled for completion in May 2018.

“Contractors are doing quite well,” Slack said. “They’re considerably ahead of schedule.”

The area also could see an increase in motor vehicle traffic at Exit 310 in the near future with the construction of Crosspointe Center – a mix of commercial and residential development planned off Route 11. The first phase of the development calls for up to 960,000 square feet of commercial development, though after 370,000 square feet the developer must complete a traffic impact analysis and make improvements to ensure adequate flow, according to information from Frederick County. The first phase also allows up to 938 dwelling units.

The new Tasker Road and Hillandale Lane cuts through commercial and residential space, according to a generalized development plan for Crosspointe. The plan also shows Tasker Road extended from where it ends under the VDOT project curving to the east through more of the development.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com