Interstate 581 is a spur leading south from Interstate 81 to Roanoke–Blacksburg Regional Airport (ROA) and the independent city of Roanoke. The urban freeway is cosigned with U.S. 220 as part of its route between Martinsville and Covington. I-581 is also incorporated in the financially uncertain Future Interstate 73 corridor through Virginia.
Exit numbers along Interstate 581 still utilize cardinal direction based suffixes. Exits count upwards as one travels south, contrary to standard numbering conventions.
Interstate 581 opened initially from Interstate 81 south to Virginia 117 in November 1964, and south to U.S. 11A & 460 and Virginia 116 by September 1965. Completion of the route southward to Virginia 24 occurred by October 1967.1
Virginia's second diverging diamond interchange is the Valley View Interchange along Interstate 581 & U.S. 220 at Exit 3C. The DDI replaced a partial exit built in 1999. Benefiting holiday shoppers bound for adjacent Valley View Mall, it opened to traffic following a ribbon cutting ceremony held on November 21, 2016.2 Design-build contracts for the $63.9 million project were awarded in March 2013, with road work starting in summer 2014.3
Interstate 581 & U.S. 220 elevate along a viaduct over Norfolk Southern Railroad tracks on the 0.75 mile approach to Virginia 24 (Elm Avenue). Virginia 24 ends just west of Exit 6 at Virginia 116 (Williamson Road). Photo taken 08/06/13.
An end shield for I-581 stands below the forthcoming Elm Avenue overpass. U.S. 220 extends the freeway south from the diamond interchange (Exit 6) with Virginia 24 to South Roanoke and Cave Spring. VA 24 meanwhile leads east from Downtown Roanoke to the town of Vinton. Photo taken 08/06/13.
Interstate 81 & U.S. 220 parallel the south slopes of Green Ridge through to the directional T interchange (Exit 143) with Interstate 581 south. Photo taken 08/06/13.
U.S. 220 turns south along side I-581 through Roanoke as it concludes a 6.45 mile overlap with Interstate 81 south at Exit 143. The US highway historically combined with U.S. 11 south from Hollins to Downtown. Photo taken 08/06/13.