Welcome to the Interstate 581 History Project!

Aerial View of Roanoke. I-581 construction underway. Interstate can be seen bisecting photograph.-George C. Davis Photography

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In this site, we will take you through an exploration of I-581's early history  in Roanoke, paying particular attention to its construction and social impact on the various communities that make up Roanoke.

As you explore this project, you will learn more about the arguments that have been made both for and against I-581's construction and development, the urban renewal process and how it relates to I-581, the actual cost of building the spur, the connections between the lands that make up I-581 and the people who lived there, and have access to a few digital resources such as maps, photos, newsreels, news articles, and census data to help illustrate the history behind the interstate. Finally, we invite Roanokers past and present to raise their voices and share their stories with us, so that together we can better understand  our community and the various actors who have shaped it to the present day.


    • October 25, 1961: The city cemetery begins to be dug up to make room for I-581.
    • February 07, 1962: Homes begin to be “razed or moved to make way for the super road”, at the time called Spur Route 581.
    • May 23, 1962: Groundbreaking Ceremony
    • March 07, 1963: Construction begins inside the city and will continue on and off, starting and stopping as more sections are added until the 1990s.

To begin, please click here.

This website is the result of a project from the FALL 2020 Public History graduate course at Virginia Tech.

Caitlin Crenshaw
Mary Culler
Savannah Flanagan
Jonathan LLoyd
Kiana Wilkerson

Project Administrator: LaDale Winling

This project is currently in its prototype stage. It is subject to updates and may or may not accurately represent the final product.