MIDDLETOWN — Construction is underway for ramp improvements at three interchanges along Interstate 81 in Frederick and Shenandoah counties.

According to the Virginia Department of Transportation, upgrades include the extension of acceleration or deceleration lanes (on- or off-ramps) at the following exits:

Mile Marker 304 (commercial truck weigh station near Middletown) – Deceleration lane from northbound I-81 into the truck scales facility.

Exit 296 (Strasburg) – Acceleration lane from Route 55/48 (John Marshall Highway) onto southbound I-81.

Exit 291 (Toms Brook) – Acceleration lane from Route 651 (Mount Olive Road) onto northbound I-81.

The I-81 interchange upgrades are designed to enhance safety and traffic operations by allowing vehicles to more effectively accelerate with interstate traffic or slow to exit at the interchange, a news release states.

Last week, contractors for VDOT began preliminary work at all three interchanges. Overnight lane or ramp closures are possible during installation and removal of concrete barriers along the right shoulders at each interchange. VDOT says digital message signs will alert drivers to specific ramp closures and detour routes as needed.

VDOT on Feb. 25 awarded a $1,694,806 contract to Kickin’ Asphalt Paving and Excavating LLC of Strasburg for the project, which has a contract completion date of Nov. 10. All work is weather permitting.

The project is part of the I-81 Corridor Improvement Program, approved by the Commonwealth Transportation Board in December 2018. The $2 billion package of targeted improvements was funded by the Virginia General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. Ralph Northam in spring 2019.

Additional information about the I-81 program is available at Improve81.org. The website includes interactive maps, timelines and details about projects that are designed to improve safety, increase reliability and foster economic growth along the 325-mile corridor.

— Contact Josh Janney at jjanney@winchesterstar.com