CHARLESTON, W.Va. — In addition to the recent speed limit reduction along the southernmost portion of Interstate 77, more safety-related measures may be approved and implemented over the next several months, according to West Virginia Parkways Authority General Manager Greg Barr.
Following a series of fatal accidents on the Turnpike in Mercer County in recent years, West Virginia Highways Commissioner Jimmy Wriston in April signed an order reducing the speed limit on a six-mile portion of the road between Camp Creek and Flat Top to 60 miles per hour. The order also mandated the installation of flashing chevrons and changeable message boards.
Barr told MetroNews the results of an ongoing comprehensive safety analysis commissioned by the Parkways Authority may be available when the Parkways Authority Board meets at its next regular public session June 13th.
“The safety study has been going on for a while now, and part of it was a speed study, as well. Before the speed limit could even be considered to be reduced, there had to be a certified speed study done by an engineering firm. That was part of this overall comprehensive analysis,” he said. “The final piece, I think right now, of the study is the median and whether we should add additional barriers to prevent (crossover accidents).
Among the proposals under consideration are the addition of friction course material to the road surface, which would reduce the probability of hydroplaning, and the installation of semi-rigid separation steel guardrail to reinforce the existing median. Barr previously told board members he had been informed by engineers that steel guardrails would be more effective than cable barriers in preventing large trucks from breaking through a median.
An additional Public Service Commission officer recently was hired to patrol the area around the Camp Creek exit and to conduct on-site safety inspections of tractor trailers, as warranted.