Work zone woes | Some drivers find I-64 construction in Cabell County unsafe

Published: Apr. 27, 2021 at 7:31 PM EDT
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BARBOURSVILLE, W.Va. (WSAZ) - Navigating the work zone along Interstate 64 in Barboursville leaves drivers with a quick split decision of choosing left or right near the Meritts Creek exit.

It’s part of the West Virginia Department of Highways project giving I-64 a makeover, with the end goal of easing congesting and traffic tie-ups.

But the contraflow lanes, which allow traffic to utilize both lanes while construction is ongoing, are causing headaches -- and some say are even dangerous.

“The first time I saw it, I was thrown for a loop. It just kind of divided at one point. I didn’t expect it. It was scary,” said Mason Hess.

He’s not alone in dealing with the headache. For Debbie Sheils, she tries to avoid taking the interstate anymore.

“It’s a pain. I know it’s needed to make the roads safer and allow more traffic, but our infrastructure on Route 60 is becoming too crazy to drive on. We do need the construction [along 64] to be done,” Sheils said.

Drivers say this isn’t the only issue, but there’s also a lack of signage for the contraflow lanes.

“It was unexpected. I didn’t notice any alert or warning ahead. I just kind of went left, real fast, and didn’t think about it. It’s dangerous,” Hess said.

The Department of Highways says they have enough signage throughout the contraflow area. They encourage drivers to put their phones down and stay alert through work zones.

“There is a standard, especially when we’re trying to utilize two lanes of traffic flow in each direction. If we didn’t use them, traffic would be a bottleneck and lead to major issues concerning public safety,” said Scott Eplin, the District Manager for West Virginia Department of Highways.

Since the contraflow lanes have been in place, WSAZ discovered there have been nearly two dozen accidents throughout the work zone from the Huntington Mall to the 29th Street exit. One of those accidents was fatal.

Barboursville Police Chief Daren McNeil says, so far, their investigation shows the accident wasn’t a result of the construction, and the number of accidents in this stretch isn’t out of the ordinary.

“It’s impossible. You’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. You either have to sit in traffic on Route U.S. 60 or dodge the construction traffic on I-64. It’s really hard in rush hour,” Sheils said.

WV DOH expects the project to take three years to complete, leaving drivers such as Sheils stuck at the fork in the road on which route to take.

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