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Southgate Drive Interchange and Campus Gateway

The Salem District of the Virginia Department of Transportation is replacing the signalized intersection at the U.S. Route 460 Bypass and Southgate Drive in Blacksburg, Virginia with a diverging diamond interchange. The existing intersection is the heaviest-used entrance to Virginia Tech; Southgate Drive significantly backs up with traffic during special events such as football games, graduation, and student move-in days.

The new partial interchange allows for the

Project Details:

The Salem District of the Virginia Department of Transportation is replacing the signalized intersection at the U.S. Route 460 Bypass and Southgate Drive in Blacksburg, Virginia with a diverging diamond interchange. The existing intersection is the heaviest-used entrance to Virginia Tech; Southgate Drive significantly backs up with traffic during special events such as football games, graduation, and student move-in days.

The new partial interchange allows for the potential future widening of Route 460 and Southgate Drive. Additionally, the interchange design enables the addition of a fourth leg to complete a future planned bypass of Prices Fork Road. New dual bridges span Route 460 and are designed to mimic the “Hokie Stone” pattern found throughout the Virginia Tech campus.

AMT designed the new interchange and its associated ramps as well as new alignments for Southgate Drive, Research Center Drive and the Huckleberry Trail. Two new roundabouts are included: one at the Southgate Drive-Research Center Drive intersection and the other at the Southgate Drive-Duck Pond Drive intersection. The Huckleberry Trail is a major regional commuter and recreational trail that is realigned to satisfy current AASHTO standards. Several grade-separated crossings are also provided to avoid conflicts between trail users and vehicular traffic. The Southgate Drive project also includes the design and construction of two enhanced extended retention facilities as well as intersection improvements at the adjacent Corporate Research Center.

Because Southgate Drive is the gateway into the Virginia Tech campus, aesthetics are critically important. The landscape design blends the project into the local vernacular with a palette of familiar VT plants, agricultural board fencing, special paving areas and “Hokie Stone” walls. Coordination between stakeholders minimized impacts to wetlands; old-growth tree stands; rare, threatened, and endangered species; and other environmentally sensitive areas on site.

Our work included:

  • civil engineering: highway; bridges; retaining walls; hydrology and hydraulics, stormwater management; sediment and erosion control; traffic analysis, maintenance of traffic; signing, pavement markings and signalization; utility design and relocation.
  • landscape architecture and aesthetics: planting design; site walls; special paving areas, tree protection; alignment, grading, and stormwater recommendations; 3D modeling; site details.

The Southgate Drive project is coordinated with three adjacent, concurrent projects: the relocation of the Virginia Tech Department of Dairy Science Farm, Virginia Tech – Montgomery Executive Airport runway expansion, and the build-out of the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center.

The project required significant coordination with VDOT, Virginia Tech, and the Town of Blacksburg. To facilitate communication of the design and visual details among stakeholders, AMT created 3D visualizations, bird’s-eye views and a drive-through movie of the future experience using Autodesk 3DS Max.

For further information about this project and links to graphics and associated documents, please visit the Virginia Department of Transportation’s project page. http://www.virginiadot.org/projects/salem/southgate_connector_-_blacksburg.asp

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