Interstate 581 is a spur leading south from I-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 Future Interstate 73 corridor through Virginia.
Exit numbers along Interstate 581 utilize cardinal direction based suffixes. Interchange numbers increase from north to south, contrary to standard Interstate numbering.
Interstate 581 was part of the urban Interstate numerology submitted by the Virginia Department of Highways to the American Association of State Highway Officials (AASHO) on July 16, 1958 and formally approved on November 10, 1958. Traffic and Planning Division Maps produced in April 1958 identified the spur into Roanoke as Interstate Route U2, where U stood for urban. I-381 was Interstate Route U1.
Interstate 581 opened initially from I-81 south to Virginia Route 117 (Peters Creek Road) in November 1964, and south to U.S. 460/11 Alternate and Virginia Route 116 (Orange Avenue) by September 1965. Completion of the route southward to SR 24 (Elm Avenue) occurred by October 1967.1
The Valley View Interchange along I-581/U.S. 220 at Exit 3C was the second diverging diamond constructed in the state of Virginia. The DDI replaced a partial exit built in 1999. Benefiting holiday shoppers bound for adjacent Valley View Mall, the exchange 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. Work commenced in Summer 2014.3
Future Interstate 73 corridor signs for I-581/U.S. 220 were unveiled at a news conference held by the City of Roanoke on April 3, 2015. The announcement followed efforts from Senator Bill Stanley (R-Franklin County), who sponsored a bill that established the I-73 Federal Transportation Compact. The partnership coordinates funding, development and construction of the Interstate corridor between Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia and the Carolinas. The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) estimated at the time that it will cost $4 billion to complete the highway within the Commonwealth.4