Justice orders additional safety strategies for I-64 work zone

May 5, 2018 GMT

CHARLESTON — Following at least 25 crashes, including three fatalities, the West Virginia Division of Highways has announced it will take additional steps to increase safety in the Interstate 64 work zone between Milton and Hurricane.

“In response to Governor Jim Justice’s directive to increase safety in the I-64 work zone over and above the national standards, the West Virginia Division of Highways (DOH) held an internal meeting to review the work zone along I-64 and the immediate steps taken by (DOH) and the (West Virginia) State Police to enhance signage and increase enforcement,” a news release from the West Virginia Department of Transportation stated Friday. “Based on the comprehensive review, the DOH concluded that the traffic control measures already in place are fully compliant with all national standards.”

In his own release, Justice said, “We’re taking additional action to make sure that this construction will be completed in a safe manner and in a way that will benefit the public.”

Justice directed Transportation Secretary Tom Smith and State Police Superintendent Jan Cahill on Wednesday to “go above and beyond” those standards wherever possible, while also focusing more strongly on enforcement.

“We need to do more,” Justice said.

“We’ve had emergency meetings with the State Police and are taking immediate action,” Smith said. “We have heard what Governor Justice has said, and we, too, pray for the families of those involved.”

The DOH said it has approved installing temporary rumble strips and corresponding signage that will be added to both ends of the project. In addition, the speed limit has been dropped to 55 mph for the entire project limit, which is 20 miles from milepost 24, which is 4 miles west of Milton, to milepost 44 at St. Albans. “Be prepared to stop” signs will be placed every half-mile along the length of the project.

Additionally, there will be multiple law enforcement agencies enforcing the speed limit throughout the project area and there will be additional message boards stating, “Road work 2 miles ahead — watch for stopped traffic.”

The DOH said traffic cones will be placed throughout the entire project on the side of the road to remind motorists they are in or approaching a work zone.

Putnam County Emergency Management officials have said that most of the crashes involved vehicles traveling at a high rate of speed or from distracted driving, or a combination of both.

Follow reporter Fred Pace at Facebook.com/FredPaceHD and via Twitter @FredPaceHD.