Safety Measures Taken Along W.Va. Turnpike after Series of Semi Accidents

By: Jeremy Edwards, Katelyn Sykes Email
By: Jeremy Edwards, Katelyn Sykes Email

UPDATE 10/4/12 @ 1:45 p.m.
KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A string of tractor trailer accidents on the West Virginia Turnpike has the Parkways Authority taking notice.

At a meeting in Charleston Thursday, state officials say they have added a new flashing sign warning truck drivers of a sharp curve between the Sharon and Paint Creek exits.

This particular exit has been the location of nearly a dozen accidents over the past month.

Most of the accidents have happened while it is raining.

State officials say they have also paved the turnpike in that area so tires are able to grip the pavement better.

The Parkways Authority also approved $450,000 for paving along the turnpike near the Camp Creek exit.

State officials say the have noticed an increase in accidents along that stretch of road as well.

KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- There’s been no shortage of accidents involving tractor-trailers on the interstate in the Kanawha Valley, including a stretch of the West Virginia Turnpike.

The latest one happened Tuesday morning along Interstate 77 near the Edens Fork exit. The driver says he was heading north when the load of lumber he was carrying began to shift and spilled off the truck.

It’s accidents just like that one that has highway officials trying to find ways to make the roads safer -- a stretch of road no stranger to accidents.

"I was coming down the highway," truck driver Larry Ward said. "The truck started turning, and I tried to straighten it out and I lost it. I couldn't control it anymore."

Ward was involved in an accident Tuesday morning when the truck he was driving spilled 49,000 pounds of lumber on I-77.

But that’s not the first accident to happen in that area. Another crash happened just a few weeks ago in the same location.

"It seems, really, in the last month or so, every week or every other week we are having an accident there," said Carrie Bly with the Division of Highways. "So, that's something that definitely has our attention, and that's why we're going to look into it."

It's also why the Division of Highways plans on studying that stretch of road to see what can be done to make it safer -- whether it’s road signs, cable barriers or road treatments.

"We call it a high friction road coating that could maybe just, you know, in situations where there is inclement weather like rain or snow or ice, that it could help a little bit and give drivers better traction," Bly.said.

The Parkways Authority has taken measures to keep the turnpike safer, especially near the Cabin Creek exit. That area has seen four tractor-trailer accidents in the past two months. Not only has the Parkways Authority put up signs, the agency also has enlisted some help.

"We've talked to our state police and they've agreed to, well they've indicated to us that they can beef up the patrols in the area in efforts to try to slow traffic down," said Tyrone Gore, director of operations with the Parkways Authority.

And so far it’s working.

While highway officials work around the clock to make sure roads are safe, they’re also asking you to do your part and take it slow.

Division of Highways officials say they’re not sure how long it’ll take for the study to be finished. Crews will have to spend some time in that area watching traffic to see what can be done.

Overall, highway officials said the main thing is for drivers to pay attention and take it slow.

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