Road Patrol: DOH aiming to maintain services despite pandemic concerns

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CLARKSBURG, W.Va. – It might look a little empty at the Division of Highways garage in Gore, just outside Clarksburg, but that doesn’t mean that crews aren’t busy. Officials with the State Road said they’re still on the job, but they have had to make some changes since the coronavirus pandemic hit the area.

“We’ve divided out shifts in half. We’ve got a crew coming in at 6:30 in the morning, and they’re working until 3:00. Then, we got another group coming in at 3:30 and working til midnight. So we will have crews available to respond to emergencies until midnight every day Monday through Friday,” said Earl Gaskins, District 4 maintenance assistant.

That half hour space also allows time for crews to help clean up the garage and their equipment for the next crew so that they are as safe as possible. Gaskins said his crew is also split another way; half are working right now, with another half staying home. But the ones at home are putting their time to good use.

“We have sent half of our shift home for 14 days, and while they’ll be working from home, we’ve set up online training centers for them to train while they’re sitting at their house. After the 14 days, those crews will come back and then these 14 will take their time off,” Gaskins said.

Projects like work on the I-79 interchange at Corridor H in Weston are going on in all regions of the DOH, and even though that particular project doesn’t fall under Gaskins’ purview, it’s still a sign of what crews are trying to do during the pandemic.

“Right now, we are trying to keep all the projects going and all of our core maintenance activities going. Obviously, it’s going to be a slower pace because we have limited manpower now, but we are going to continue every day going to be out there. You’ll see us patching, ditching, mowing, just our regular duties,” said Gaskins.

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