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Expecting I-73 Soon in Virginia? It's gonna be awhile.

Progress on Virginia's portion of Interstate 73 may have taken a few steps back this week - as two separate items may impact how long and where I-73 may ultimately be built.

First in Richmond, the US Fourth Circuit of Appeals has extended the window for Virginians for Appropriate Roads (VAR) by one month due January 25th. The original date was December 21st. VDOT and the FHWA will then have until March 1st to file their response.

From there, the appellate court could make a U.S. District Court ruling based on the legal briefs; or they can schedule a hearing. VAR is appealing a decision from earlier this year that VDOT did not adequately study improvements to the existing US 220 corridor from Roanoke to Martinsburg in their findings. District Court Judge James C. Turk ruled that VDOT did all that was necessarily required in their study.

Story: I-73 appeal ruling delayed ---Myrtle Beach Sun News

But what may have the most impact on the timing and even the eventual routing of Interstate 73 in South Central Virginia was the decision by the Commonwealth Transportation Board to further study an alternative routing of I-73 put forward by the Henry County Board of Supervisors.

After completing a preliminary study of the alternate route, VDOT requested that the CTB remove the Henry County alternative from further consideration.

By a unanimous vote, the CTB directed VDOT to work with the Federal Highway Administration to “conduct the necessary studies and take such steps as may be required by law to consider shifting the location of the alignment.”

There is no word on how long this study will take or how much it will cost. But it certainly throws a roadblock to the eventual construction of Interstate 73. Furthermore, after the study is completed, a decision will need to be made and that will take additional time. In addition, depending on where the route enters Henry County from the south, the study may impact the entire proposed route.

Finally, this may throw a lifeline to Virginians for Appropriate Roads. Because the CTB has authorized a further study of the Henry County Alternative, it does open the door for VDOT to be required to study an upgrade to existing US 220 as well.

It's going to be a long time until we see Interstate 73 in Virginia.

Story: CTB ok's study of alternate I-73 route ---Martinsville Bulletin

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