Drivers navigating the south end of Virginia Tech’s campus will see changes this Spring Break.

The next step in the Virginia Department of Transportation’s major Southgate Interchange project — the permanent closure of the old Research Center Drive — is planned for March 7.

The Southgate Interchange project has brought exciting improvements to the south end of campus — better access to the Corporate Research Center, less traffic congestion and the bridge over U.S. 460 to name a few.

And with closure of the old Research Center Drive, the Virginia Tech Montgomery Executive Airport runway extension project will move closer to completion. The 1,000-foot extension will permit use by larger airplanes and help support the region’s economic development.

Research Drive closure map
Map of closure. Click on the image to open and download a version of the map.

In December, VDOT opened the new Southgate Interchange and the new Research Center Drive. The VDOT Southgate Interchange was built to improve safety and reduce congestion by replacing the intersection at U.S. 460 with a modern diverging diamond, grade-separated interchange.

To help drivers learn the new traffic pattern, the old Research Center Drive remained open until construction for the runway extension required closing the road.

The permanent closure of old Research Center Drive is tentatively scheduled for March 7. Drivers that have been using the old Research Center Drive route will now connect to Southgate Drive at the new roundabout location between the interchange and Duck Pond Drive.

The portion of the road from Southgate Drive to the Upper Recreation Area parking lot (near the Burrows-Burleson Tennis Center) will remain open as an extension of Beamer Way. The portion of the road from Forecast Drive to Innovation Drive will remain open as Smoot Drive.

Signs will be in place several days in advance alerting drivers of the road’s closure.

For pedestrians and cyclists, the new trail associated with the VDOT Southgate Interchange is open and the segment of trail along the old Research Center Drive will be closed on March 7.

Trail users will need to use the new section of trail that goes along the Beamer Way extension and then along Southgate Drive. This trail takes users to the trail along the new Research Center Drive.

The VDOT Southgate Interchange project is nearing completion and expected to be substantially complete by the end of 2018 or sooner.

Some of the work that will be done in the coming months:

  • Extension of the acceleration lane from Southgate Drive to Route 460 westbound.
  • Extension of the deceleration lane from Route 460 eastbound to Southgate Drive. 
  • Intersection improvements at Innovation and Smoot drives, as well as intersection improvements at the existing Research Center Drive and Smoot Drive.
  • Trail improvements along Beamer Way extension.
  • Improved turnaround at the end of Beamer Way extension.
  • Construction of Pavilion/Kiosk Loop off the Duck Pond Drive roundabout.
  • Placement of final asphalt surface on new Southgate Drive ramps and mainline to include both roundabouts.
  • Demolition of existing (old) Southgate Drive and construction of stormwater management basins.
  • Completion of landscaping/lighting. 
  • Expect lane closures with flagging operations from mid-March through the summer. 
  • Expect flagging operations at intersections of Smoot and Innovation drives as well as Research and Innovation drives.