An example of the zipper merge on a Pennsylvania highway.

HURRICANE, W.Va. –The state Division of Highways wants motorists to use a traffic concept called the zipper merge in a major construction project that begins next week on Interstate 64 in Putnam and Cabell counties.

A DOH-hired contractor will get started on a full rehabilitation project that will stretch for 12 miles on busy I-64 from the Crooked Creek exit in Putnam County to the Milton exit in Cabell County. The project will last through the summer.

Lanes will be closed at alternating times throughout the project. The zipper merge will allow motorists to move through those work zones more efficiently, DOH spokesman Brent Walker said.

“What we’re asking folks to do is utilize both lanes up until the time you are forced to get over and then just alternate,” Walker said.

Motorists usually start getting over in the open lane a few miles before the lane is closed and sometimes tractor trailer drivers block motorists who want to continue in the soon-to-be-closed lane. Walker said that slows everything down. He said zipper merge should help.

“It’s more efficient. It takes advantage of both lanes and allows folks to travel a little bit smoother,” Walker said.

The DOH believes the zipper merge will reduce a long backup of traffic.

The rehabilitation will include work taking the interstate lanes down to their base, applying a process to the base and then repaving with about nine inches of new pavement.

Work begins Monday on the Milton end of the project. The first phase will be a seven mile construction zone. The second phase, about five miles, will use contra-flow instead of zipper merge.

Walker is urging motorists to be patient.

“Let’s not stress out about this. This is all positive stuff and when it’s done it’s going to be great,” he said.

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