Exits 245 &247 Interchange Alternative Analysis

The Harrisonburg-Rockingham Metropolitan Planning Organization (HRMPO) in partnership with the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), the City of Harrisonburg, and James Madison University (JMU) have identified the need for interchange modifications on Interstate 81 at Exit 245 (State Route 253/Port Republic Road) and Exit 247 (U.S. Route 33/East Market Street). Both interchanges fall within the corporate limits of the City of Harrisonburg and provide access to existing and developing commercial/employment and residential areas of the City of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County as well as the JMU campus. 

 The purpose of the proposed interchange improvements are to address existing and future operational, safety, access, economic development, and system connectivity needs which have been identified within the Study Area. Future economic development within the Study Area is believed to be closely linked to the need for improvements to Exit 245 and Exit 247.

The operational needs intended to be addressed by the proposed interchange improvements include existing and future congestion along the Port Republic Road corridor. Integrating heavy pedestrian and bicycle traffic is recognized as a key component of the project. Better understanding the relationship between Exit 245 and Exit 247 and how improvements to one interchange impact the other has also been considered.

 A number of potential Build Alternatives have been evaluated as part of this study. Each of these Build Alternatives was intended to address existing and future safety concerns, as well as accommodate future traffic growth in the Study Area, and enhance access between the City of Harrisonburg, JMU and surrounding areas of Rockingham County. This evaluation resulted in the identification of two potential designs at each intersection for the Build Alternatives:

 Exit 247 Alternative 1 – Eliminate the SE quadrant loop ramp from Route 33 EB onto I-81 NB and replace it with a directional left. Extend left turn lane for Route 33 WB to I-81 SB. Add third full lane on Route 33 EB & WB between Cantrell Ave and the I-81 SB ramps. 

Exit 247 Alternative 1R – Same improvements as Build Alternative 1 with the addition of I-81 NB & SB on/off ramps at Reservoir Street.

Exit 245 Alternative 1 – Replace existing diamond interchange with Partial‐Cloverleaf Interchange with diamond style ramps on the northern side of the interchange, and loop ramps on the south side of Port Republic Rd. I-81 NB on/off ramp terminal intersection relocated further east along Port Republic Rd and aligned with relocated Forest Hill Rd. I-81 SB on/off ramp terminal intersection relocated further west along Port Republic Rd and aligned with Bluestone Dr. Realign Forest Hill Rd. with Oak Hill Rd. and then connect with University Blvd.

Exit 245 Alternative 2 – Replace existing diamond interchange with Partial‐Cloverleaf Interchange with diamond style ramps on the northern side of the interchange, and a loop/diamond ramp combination on the south side of Port Republic Rd. I-81 NB on/off ramp terminal intersection relocated further east along Port Republic Rd and aligned with relocated Forest Hill Rd. I-81 SB on/off ramps and terminal intersection at Port Republic Rd maintained at existing location. Realign Forest Hill Rd. with Oak Hill Rd. and then connect with University Blvd.

For additional information, please call 540-885-5174.