BRIDGEPORT, W.Va. — With Labor Day weekend approaching, thousands of West Virginians will hit the road to spend time with friends, family, or just get away for the holiday weekend. As the Division of Highways prepares for more travel on major highways, it cautioned drivers to be extra careful with more drivers on the road.
District Four of the Division of Highways map covered many of the most popular roads in North Central West Virginia. It covered Preston, Monongalia, Marion, Taylor, Doddridge, and Harrison Counties. Interstates 68 and 79, along with US Highway 50 run through those counties, which cover most of the major ways out of the area.
Michael Cronin is the district engineer for District Four. As someone who drives through the area every day, he noticed many things about drivers’ habits that could be cause for concern; the main one was drivers distracted by their phones.
“When you’re driving, look at the road,” Cronin said. “Don’t look at the phone. Don’t pick it up. Don’t answer it. Just drive down the road. Pay attention to everything.”
Phones were just one way Cronin had seen drivers distracted. He said he’s driven past drivers reading the newspaper, putting on makeup and more, all while behind the wheel. As he anticipates more vehicles on the road for Labor Day weekend, he was worried about the increased opportunity for accidents.
“[Drivers are] trying to hurry and get to where they’re going. They’re not leaving 10 minutes earlier. Instead, they’re leaving 10 minutes later. Trying to make up that time to get to work. That’s what’s causing a lot of the accidents,” he said.
The main roads in District Four went and are currently going under renovations. When entering Clarksburg, Route 50 now had both lanes reopened. Interstate 79 is currently undergoing maintenance at mile marker 144 at the Halleck Road overpass, and the widening project through Marion County recently got underway.
“Construction sites, we do have some coming up that will be active. But hopefully, everything will be off and all lanes will be open. That’s what our goal is,” Cronin said.
Cronin went further and said that the only times he expected lanes to be closed to obstructed during the holiday weekend were in the event of accidents.