WHITE HALL, W.Va. (WBOY) — The split barricade that was installed near Interstate 79 southbound near White Hall exit 132 on Thursday was brought to 12 News’ attention by multiple drivers who have called it a “death trap.”
Since the barricades were installed, there has only been one incident so far, to which the Valley Volunteer Fire Department responded. Zac Eakle, a firefighter at the Valley VFD, confirmed that there were no injuries, only congested traffic.
Valley VFD covers I-79 alerts between mile markers 137 and 129 and a half. When the department gets an alert, they will show up at the scene with a rescue truck and engine truck, depending on the size of the incident. One truck will cover the scene and Engine 122 will conduct traffic control by diverting traffic from one lane to another.
Eakle added why he feels people are getting confused upon approaching the barricade.
“I mean, the split does kinda come up out of nowhere, you know, like I said, if you’re going the proper speed limit and you’re not tailgating somebody,” Eakle said. “You follow the lines, you know, just err on the side of caution while you’re driving, and I don’t think you should have any incident.”
He personally does not have any worries or concerns about the barricade split but feels that if people would pay attention and follow the solid white lines, rather than merging into a different lane, people would have nothing to worry about.
Eakle has been working with the department for about 10 and a half years and noticed that a lot of people driving through I-79 are from out of state. He said he does not know if they just do not pay attention to the signs posted in the construction zones, but they drive through 70 plus miles per hour in the 55-mile-per-hour work zone.
Michael Cronin, a District 4 Engineer, released that a traffic engineer reviewed the split and added additional message boards for those who may be getting confused.
“People are driving too fast through the work zone,” Cronin said. “I came through there the other day and had plenty of time to react, but it will catch you off guard if you are going over the speed limit.”
When it comes to recommended precautions in approaching the split, Eakle added, “it’s posted all down through this construction zone. Heavy traffic, there is a working construction zone, I recommend folks following the posted speed limit at 55 miles per hour. Rain, shine, snow, sleet or hail, and put your cell phone down while you’re driving.”
Eakle mentioned that not too long ago, there was a split in the northern part of the state, in Wheeling, where there was a longer and bigger split. It was kind of the same principle, “Proceed with caution and stay in designated lane and there aren’t any problems.”
Swank construction works well with the VFD, and are grateful to work together. Zac Eakle mentioned that this zone is not the construction workers’ fault and that they are just there to do their job.
Cronin said that this barricade split is a two-month setup, but they are hoping it will be finished quicker than that.