West Virginia Plans Studies of 2 Busy Roadways

March 16, 2012

Two busy roadways in southern West Virginia and the Northern Panhandle will be studied by state engineers to determine whether changes are needed to improve safety.

Media outlets report that the Division of Highways plans to conduct traffic studies on Interstate 70 near The Highlands shopping development in Ohio County and the intersection of U.S. 52 and State Route 123 in Mercer County.

Following an earlier traffic study, the DOH reduced the speed limit on a section of I-70 between Elm Grove and the Pennsylvania line from 70 mph to 65 mph in April 2011. Ohio County officials say the speed limit should be reduced further to prevent accidents.

Traffic studies consider several factors besides speed, including the amount of development in the area, width of travel lanes, availability of shoulders, the road’s geometry and available crash history, DOH Traffic Engineering Division director Cindy Cramer told The Intelligencer and Wheeling News Register.

Motorists are more likely to obey a new speed limit if it is based on a traffic study, Cramer said.

In Mercer County, DOH engineers will look at the traffic count, accident rates, the length of time that red and yellow traffic lights remain on and other criteria, said Tom Camden, district manager for the DOH’s District 10.

Camden said he had not heard any previous complaints about the intersection. But West Virginia State Police Sgt. D.W. Miller said it has been the site of multiple wrecks.

“It is somewhat of a trouble spot,” Miller told the Bluefield Daily Telegraph. “Probably a lot of it has to do with traffic congestion. The state police and the sheriff’s department have been out there numerous times for accidents.”

The district’s traffic engineer will make a recommendation to DOH officials in Charleston after the study is completed.

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