NEW INFO: Officials Explain 14 Hour Closure of I-77; Safety the Priority

By: Anna Baxter, Brenda Bryan Email
By: Anna Baxter, Brenda Bryan Email

UPDATE 5/17/12 @ 5:45 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W. Va. (WSAZ) -- An accident on I-77 in Jackson County on Wednesday forced drivers to take long detours and left many of them fuming.

On Thursday, the West Virginia Department of Transportation explained why the road was shut down for more than half the day.

Two tractor trailers, one carrying potatoes and the other carrying beans, collided at about 4:30 Wednesday morning shutting down both lanes of I-77 northbound just south of the Ravenswood exit.

The WVDOT said it was a combination of the damage to the trucks and what they were hauling that resulted in the long closure.

"The fact that the truck had actually come up onto the guardrail and onto the bridge parapet wall, which is the side concrete barrier, and it had ridden the whole way, it ripped off the axels, it wasn't just an ordinary, run of the mill tracker trailer accident," said Brent Walker, spokesperson for the WVDOT.

While cars stuck in the gridlock were able to turn around between gates in the median, some tractor trailers were too large to make the u-turn and were stranded for up to six hours before one lane opened up at 6:30 Wednesday night.

"We had our crews out there. We had volunteer fire departments out there. And so they spent a lot of time, they spent over 24 hours on that job site," said Walker.

Traffic was eventually moving through both lanes by midnight.

Walker added that safety is the number one goal of the DOT.

"Our mission is to provide safety to the traveling public and we opened that up just as soon as we could but those trucks were a mess," said Walker.

Highway crews will be working on the bridge and will replace the guardrail, so the interstate could be shut down to one lane at times throughout the next week.



UPDATE 5/17/12 @ 7 a.m.
RAVENSWOOD, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Both lanes of Interstate 77 northbound have reopened near Ravenswood, according to the West Virginia Department of Highways.

Two tractor-trailers collided about 4:30 a.m. Wednesday, shutting down the highway for hours. One of the northbound lanes reopened Wednesday evening.

Firefighters tell WSAZ.com the driver of one of the trucks fell asleep causing him to lose control and jack knife.

The driver of the second truck could not stop in time and crashed into the jackknifed truck.

One of the drivers was taken to the hospital; the other was not hurt.

The southbound lanes of the interstate were not affected by the crash.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 5/16/12 @ 7:40 p.m.
RAVENSWOOD, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- One lane of Interstate 77 northbound has reopened near Ravenswood.

Two tractor-trailers collided about 4:30 a.m. Wednesday, shutting down the highway for hours.

Firefighters tell WSAZ.com the driver of one of the trucks fell asleep causing him to lose control and jack knife.

The driver of the second truck could not stop in time and crashed into the jackknifed truck.

One of the drivers has been taken to the hospital; the other was not hurt.

The southbound lanes of the interstate are not affected by the crash.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



ORIGINAL STORY
RAVENSWOOD, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A Jackson County 911 dispatcher says the I-77 northbound lanes are closed just south of the Ravenswood exit because of a crash.

It happened at 4:39 a.m. Wednesday.

Two tractor trailers are involved. She said one of them is on its side.

The dispatcher says no serious injuries, but I-77 North is going to be closed for awhile because of diesel and oil on the road.

One person was taken to the hospital. No word on the extent of the injuries.

Be sure to check back at WSAZ.com for the latest information.


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