Cabell County commissioners request DOT study I-64 after hydroplane wrecks

By  | 

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Cabell County officials are taking action they hope makes a safer commute for all residents and travelers.

The Cabell County Commission voted Thursday to send a letter requesting a safety study on I-64 in West Virginia.

The Cabell County Commissioners voted Thursday to send a formal letter to the Department of Transportation, asking them to study the interstate in both Cabell and Wayne counties.

It’s really just a paragraph, but they hope their words carry some weight.

Twice in the last two weeks, drivers have hydroplaned -- flipping their cars but escaping death.

The first was on May 30, then again on June 6. They were going in opposite directions but it was the same stretch of road, just west of the 29th Street exit. Click here for more.

Both drivers blame rain pooling on the road where a concrete median divides the highway.

"We represent the people of Cabell County. We want to make sure they hear from us," said Commissioner Kelli Sobonya.

The letter asks the DOT to study the highway in Cabell and Wayne counties to see if improvements are needed.

When we have asked the Department for answers in recent stories, they've refused our interview requests and released statements that have not mentioned that area of I-64, saying they evaluate every road statewide.

Sobonya hopes this letter holds some weight.

"We just think this will be a great way for us to look at how we can reduce accidents and fatalities."

When we followed up with DOT officials again Thursday, they said the issues on I-64 are very weather-dependent and all the recent heavy rain has been a problem.

They said the drainage system is regularly checked, though they aren't sure exactly how regular. They pledge to be more vigilant going forward.

Sobonya hopes that's true.

"I think they'll listen,” she said. “I'm sure they are mindful already but just hearing from more citizens, we think they should be more scrutiny on the travel of these portions of the interstate. I think that will go a long way."

Sobonya adds she would like to see the speed limit dropped in a few portions of I-64, saying she voted against it when she was in the legislature.

The current speed limit there is 65 mph, but DOT officials remind all drivers, that's the limit under ideal conditions. When there's heavy rain, drivers should be well below that.