BECKLEY, W.Va. — Members of the West Virginia Parkways Authority Board have approved the awarding of a contract for median guardrail reinforcement along Interstate 77 in the Camp Creek area of Mercer County, where several fatal accidents have occurred in recent years.
General Manager Greg Barr told MetroNews he wants the work between mile markers 20 and 28, northbound and southbound, to be done before the end of the construction season, this year.
“Normally, that means October, at the latest. You get into November, December, it’s a crap shoot then about, perhaps, bad weather. So, we feel like it’ll move along pretty quick. With this approval today by the board, we’ll be able to issue a Notice to Proceed with the contractor, today, and they should be getting started pretty quick. We had a pretty quick timeline set up for them to get it done,” said Barr.
During Thursday’s board meeting in Beckley, Pennsylvania-based Green Acres Contracting was approved by members to add semi-rigid separation steel railing to the existing 40-foot median, in order to prevent crossover collisions on the Turnpike, particularly those involving tractor-trailers and other large commercial vehicles.
Alternative proposals, including the use of concrete or cabling, were considered, as part of a comprehensive safety analysis, which concluded steel barriers likely would be the most effective material for preventing the types of accidents involving large vehicles which have recurred on the southernmost portion of the highway.
Following a series of fatal accidents near the Camp Creek exit, 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.
An additional Public Service Commission officer recently was hired to patrol the area and to conduct on-site safety inspections of tractor trailers, as warranted.