BLUEFIELD, W.Va. — Contractors for the state Division of Highways didn’t begin removing cones from the northbound Interstate 77 construction project between Bluefield and Princeton until late Friday afternoon leaving thousands of holiday week travelers frustrated.
The DOH announced Wednesday it was going to clear the several mile project Friday although it wasn’t specific about what time it was going to happen. Huntington resident Elizabeth Sheets and her husband were traveling home from Myrtle Beach and got stuck in a six-mile backup before reaching the East River Mountain Tunnel at the state line. They thought that from the announcement the highway would be clear.
“They told you it would be open or we would have taken (Route) 460 and come in at Princeton,” Sheets told MetroNews as she was inching along in traffic.
She said motorists were getting frustrated. Some were passing other vehicles on the berm while others were blocking traffic on purpose.
When Sheets and her husband got through the tunnel and continued north on I-77 they saw a construction worker beginning to take some of the cones down.
“Why has this not happened already? It appears they just did not get around to lifting the cones until just a little bit ago. There was no work being done,” she said.
According to the previous DOH announcement, work on the southbound lanes of the interstate will begin July 9. The truck detour will also return that day, and northbound traffic will continue with a single lane.
The speed limit remains at 55 mph.