Road Patrol: Back, narrow roads cause difficulties for first responders


Back, narrow roads are commonplace in West Virginia, and emergency services can have a difficult time with them. 

Arden Grade Road, like many others in West Virginia, is designated a two-lane road.  It is narrow, has a small shoulder, and deep ditches on either side making it difficult for first responders to maneuver in an emergency.

“The law enforcement mindset is to imagine the worst.  If I am responding somewhere, I imagine that the road is completely filled,” said Chief Jeff Walters of the Philippi Police Department.

Each year, through the spring and summer months, the Arden area in Barbour County is heavily trafficked by locals and out-of-towners seeking outdoor recreation.

Officials said oftentimes vehicles are parked in the very limited shoulder space and hang over into the road, making it difficult, but not impossible, for fire crews, ambulances, and police cruisers to make their way to an emergency.

“Obviously, we are in a rural area.  We have a lot of back country roads that are single-lane roads, not well taken care of,” said Barbour County Office of Emergency Management Deputy Director Cory Cox.

“There’s always that chance that an emergency could happen.  So, plan ahead.  Don’t block the roadway.  At least make it passable for first responders to get through.”

The Arden area, known as Party Rock, is a popular destination for students…and shoulder space for parking is limited.

“Anytime they are out there, it is a constant issue.  Every year the road is blocked.  Emergency services are barely able to squeeze through.  So, that does cause a problem when we are needed out there,” continued Cox.

“Most people are pretty courteous if they see us coming.  They’ll pull over as far as they can.  The best thing people can do, anytime if they don’t have a place to pull over, is just stop,” continued Chief Walters.

Officials advise drivers to make sure they stay alert in emergency situations and stop their vehicles as soon as possible, making it easier for emergency crews.

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