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Work Zone Woes Part 2 | WVDOH officials respond to drivers’ complaints about I-64 safety issues

Published: Apr. 28, 2021 at 8:21 PM EDT
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BARBOURSVILLE, W.Va. (WSAZ) - Some drivers traveling Interstate 64 through Barboursville find the construction to be unsafe and dangerous.

In a follow-up to a WSAZ investigation, WSAZ asked top officials at the West Virginia Department of Highways (WVDOH) what’s being done to improve safety throughout the area as crews work on a road-widening project.

Jimmy Wriston, deputy secretary for the Department of Transportation, said that stretch of the work zone is “particularly dangerous” due to the amount of traffic flow in the area.

“When you get that much traffic volume in an area where you are doing that volume of work, that big of project, drivers must be patient. Don’t be distracted and follow the signs,” Wriston said.

The number one complaint WSAZ heard from drivers was a lack of signage warning them of a traffic change with the contraflow lanes.

The contraflow lanes allow traffic to operate in two lanes while construction is ongoing on either side of the interstate.

WSAZ asked State Safety Officer Shane Hudnall if officials would consider adding more signs. Hudnall said they would “continue to investigate, but the signage posted meets at least minimum state standards.”

“We can always look at adding more signage. The only problem is we don’t want to put too much out. It becomes mundane and people don’t pay attention,” Hudnall said. “We can investigate that if they would improve the safety. We can certainly add more signs if need be.”

In 2015, when contraflow lanes were introduced in downtown Charleston, WVDOH ran a marketing campaign. In 2018, WV DOH ran a social media campaign on how contraflow lanes work before being introduced.

For this project in Barboursville, WSAZ found there was only one post per day on the WV511′s Twitter page, encouraging drivers to reduce their speed through the work zone. There was no mention of the contraflow lane.

“I wouldn’t say it was a different approach, but I can tell you: We can always do better every day,” Wriston said.

Some drivers told us they found the lanes to be too narrow, but it’s something they’ll have to get used to when traveling, as DOH officials say they are key in improving safety.

“When you don’t have a contraflow you don’t have any walls or protection. Basically, they are working right on the white line. This increases the safety of the employees, so there’s a physical barrier between them and the vehicle. It increases their safety and the drivers also,” Hudnall said.

The contraflow lanes are expected to be in place for three years while the project is ongoing.

For part one of this series, click here.

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