Trouble spot on I-64: how drivers can stay safe and what's being done to fix it

Published: May. 15, 2017 at 6:14 PM EDT
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PUTNAM COUNTY W.Va. (WSAZ)-- After a 12-car pileup last week, WSAZ decided to dig into the crash rate near the Nitro-St. Albans Bridge on Interstate 64.

We found the crash rate between I-64 mile markers 43 and 47 is higher than the state average.

As our WSAZ crew went to drive the stretch of road Monday morning, their news car came to a halt around mile marker 45. A single-vehicle crash had brought traffic to a standstill.

It's a common scene, according to numbers provided by the West Virginia Department of Transportation.

Between 2012 and 2016 there were 830 crashes. While that is high for a 4-mile stretch, the injury accident rate is lower than the state average.

"That section of highway was not built for the amount of traffic we're seeing nowadays," Lt. Michael Baylous with West Virginia State Police said on Monday.

More than 60,000 people travel on that stretch of I-64 each day. The Department of Transportation is planning to widen the road.

Carrie Jones, a WVDOT spokesperson, said the project is scheduled to go out for contract later this year.

Originally construction was slated to start this spring.

While this project is in the works, West Virginia State Police are urging drivers to take responsibility.

"Crashes are preventable," Baylous said.

He cited everything from distracted driving to tailgating when it comes to reasons for people crashing.

Not allowing others to merge onto the interstate right before the bridge can lend a hand to the problem.

"Check your rear view mirror and see if you can slow down or speed up just a little bit to allow them that room to get on the interstate," Baylous said if you aren't able to get over in the other lane.

"You just need to use common sense and drive in a reasonable manner, and a lot of these crashes could be avoided," Baylous added.