By Aila Boyd

The Salem District of the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) held a press conference last Tuesday to discuss the details of the decision to implement a temporary detour for the southbound lane of Route 220 outside of Fincastle.

The press conference was held at the construction site with communications staffers Jason Bond and Jen Ward on hand to answer questions.

The need for the detour comes from a February 20 tanker truck wreck, which caught fire and destroyed a 110-foot section of pipe beneath the northbound lane.

The detour is estimated to last 10 to 14 days, with April 1 being the date of implementation. The detour is signed, with the route as follows: Mary Alice Road to West Wind Road to Old Fincastle Road, before returning to Route 220.

VDOT notes to expect delays and heavier traffic as a result of the detour.

Once the pipe has been installed, the southbound detour will be removed and traffic will return to a two-way pattern with one lane open in each direction.

During the 10 to 14 days, VDOT crews will work to install the replacement pipe, which has already been assembled. The replacement will require the crews to perform excavation, place concrete footers, and install a steel splice joint beneath the inside southbound lane. Because of the extensive nature of the work, VDOT said that it isn’t safe for vehicles to travel on the lane.

Original VDOT estimates to repair the damage were between $250,000 to $300,000. Now, Bond said that the estimated cost is over $1 million. He went on to explain that payment for such repairs normally involves insurance settlements with trucking companies. The estimate doesn’t include the cost for environmental cleanup.

All of the recent wet weather was cited by Bond as one of the contributing factors for why the repair work has been slow going.

The entire project is expected to take an additional month to month and a half to complete following the 10- to 14-day detour period.