Channel 19

Todd Dills

Rash of wrecks in W.Va. prompts increased police patrols

| June 13, 2013

West Virginia truck crash and fireThere’s been a recent series of truck-involved accidents on the I-77 portion of the West Virginia Turnpike, near the old two-lane Memorial Tunnel, shut down when in the 1980s-90s a four-lane tunnel bypass was built. Sharp turns in the area coupled with wet conditions (and excessive speed, W.Va. Turnpike officials surmise, perhaps jumping to conclusions) appear to be primary causes, but regardless they’re employing a “skid test” of the pavement under dry conditions to determine whether problems with the road could be contributing . You can read more about it all, including officials’ efforts to suss out the root causes, via this story on the site of the Register-Herald newspaper.

And be forewarned, I suppose: There you’ll also find the news that the state DOT is increasing officer patrols and inspections between and near milemakers 74 and 78 on I-77 around the old tunnel, and they’re looking to prove out their a priori theory:

Barr said troopers plan to increase patrols in the area between Mileposts 74 and 78 to see if speed has been a factor, and what has been a mere warning likely will turn into some real speeding tickets. The Public Service Commission likewise will be conducting accelerated checks of truckers. More here.

Worse yet, an editorial published yesterday in the Register-Herald got all aw-shucks about it, offering sarcastic treatment of the notion that there could be a problem other than scofflaw truck drivers running recklessly. The writer began his piece with a quote from Will Rogers — “You can’t legislate intelligence and common-sense into people” — then reveled in the glory of the beautiful West Virginia Turnpike, beset now with danger for tourists and four-wheelers who use the Pike regularly:

Sharp turns.

High speeds.

Big rigs.

Rainy conditions.

What part of this equation mystifies the persons behind the wheel?

And then for the worst part of it all, the writer invokes Rogers, yet again, well-known for his “I’ve never met a man I didn’t like” quip:

Rogers may have never met a man he didn’t like, but we’re quite sure he didn’t have the opportunity to ride the turnpike beside of a semi trucker, precariously barreling down the pavement. That experience may have made even this most affable gentleman grit his teeth. Read the full editorial here.

I’m all for improving highway safety and preventing crashes, but jeez…

  • Dan Adkins

    As a retired O/O truck driver and previous company driver before that, I ran the WVa Turnpike sometimes 3 times a week to Princeton, Wva. I did this run for about 10 years and believe me, that turnpike has curves that are banked the wrong way, bridges in the middle of turns with super rough approaches that will put your head into the top of the cab. Although the turns and speeds are posted in adequate time for braking and speed adjustments, its the way the road is designed. You never can make adjustments for human error. It doesnt make any difference whether your going North or South, this particular portion of I77 is definately dangerous. Either way your going, N or S, you have a curve at the bottom of each side of the old tunnel mtn. that really doesnt seem that bad until you get in the middle of the turn and then its to late for adjustments. What makes it so bad now too is they charge you an arm and a leg to drive on the Wv. Turnpike now. The costs have went up drastically for 18 wheelers and I also had 2 dumptrucks hauling asphalt paving so depending on the area we were paving, it was cheaper buying the fuel to go completely around Rt. 60 and buy the fuel unless you could sli by with a drop axel up and it then didnt cost as much. The more axels down, them more it cost. Doesnt make sense but that was the way it was. Anyway, drivers if you run the Wv. Turnpike, dig deep in your pockets and slow down and beware of th turns. The life you save may be yours and speeding on the TP isnt worth getting on the other end faster to save 10 minutes. God be with you and God Bless the Truckers !!