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W.Va. lawmaker says Route 35 targeted enforcement to stay

Published: Sep. 22, 2020 at 9:49 PM EDT
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PUTNAM COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) - A state lawmaker said it’s time to start writing tickets seven days a week at a dangerous intersection in his county.

Sen. Glenn Jeffries, D-Putnam, made that statement Tuesday, just a day after two tractor-trailer rollover accidents at the U.S. 35 intersection.

Route 35 is no stranger to deadly accidents, and Putnam County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Eric Hayzlett said a lot of them have something in common.

“Pretty much any accident down there for the most part involving tractor-trailers is speed-related,” Hayzlett said.

Tractor-trailers sometimes take the curves too fast near the Buffalo Bridge and flip into the oncoming lanes or into the barriers.

Jeffries asked for action after rollovers happened back-to-back Sunday and Monday.

“It’s very fortunate no one was killed, but it is more about awareness to the public,” Jeffries said.

Although warnings are in place, including signage, barriers and reflectors, officials say drivers must slow down.

Jeffries asked the state Department of Highways for targeted patrols.

“I asked that we leave law enforcement there seven days a week until the project is completed,” according to Hayzlett.

Jimmy Wriston with the Department of Highways agreed and allocated funds from the project to employ off-duty Putnam County deputies and West Virginia State Police troopers for targeted enforcement.

“Sometimes we need to go a little further, and we do,” Wriston said.

When U.S. 35 opened late Monday night after the rollover crash scenes were cleaned, the enforcement started.

“So they started last night, and I do know today that they have been writing tickets,” Jeffries said.

Construction at the intersection is set to end next year. Until then, the increased enforcement is a preventative measure. With this initiative, officials are hoping to save lives and prevent crashes, including rollovers.

Wriston said traffic through that area was light through the summer with the pandemic, but it’s picking back up through the intersection, which is another reason for the targeted enforcement.

Jeffries said he has asked for a weekly report from the targeted enforcement effort.

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