Truckers ignoring detour on I-77 in West Virginia; nearly 200 citations in under a week
May 23, 2018
On Thursday, May 17, construction on Interstate 77 in West Virginia near the Virginia border began, leading to a truck-only detour to Route 460. Despite plenty of warning, truckers are still traveling on I-77. That has resulted in the West Virginia State Police issuing nearly 200 citations in less than a week.
Construction crews started a rehabilitation project on I-77 from Exit 1 to Exit 9, an approximate 8-mile stretch this past Thursday. According to Terra Goins, construction engineer for the Department of Highway’s District 10, crews will be busting out concrete to make way for new asphalt.
To alleviate traffic problems, trucks and buses have been rerouted to Route 460 where they reenter the interstate at the Exit 9 intersection in Princeton. Passenger vehicles remain on I-77 through the construction.
However, many truckers are not taking the detour.
According to 1st Sgt. J. Tomblyn of the West Virginia State Police Princeton Detachment, the department has issued approximately 170 citations to truckers ignoring the detour.
“Every trucker that I have stopped said they didn’t see it was marked,” Tomblyn told Land Line.
Tomblyn and other law enforcement officials are not buying that excuse.
There are at least four signs on the West Virginia side warning travelers on Interstate 77 of the upcoming detour. A sign over the interstate sign reads “All Trucks Detour” with an arrow, according to Tomblyn. Flashing, portable digital signs also read “All Trucks Must Exit.”
“I think they’re pretty easy to see,” Tomblyn said. “I don’t know how you miss one of the flashing signs.”
Tomblyn estimates that approximately 20 minutes are added to a trip with the detour when the traffic is not too congested. That time is likely to increase during heavier traffic times, such as morning and evening commutes.
Construction is expected to occur in three phases. Phase one includes construction on northbound lanes, and is scheduled to run from mid-May to July 4. Phase two will include southbound lane reconstruction, and phase three will move construction to the tunnel. It is not clear at this point if the split traffic reroutes will be used for phases two and three.
“Based on our traffic modeling, this will allow the truck traffic to proceed on 460 instead of trying to go up and down the grades on I-77, where it may be a slow go,” Goins said. “We’re just trying to keep the traffic moving.”
Tomblyn emphasized that this is a mandatory detour for all tractor-trailers and commercial vehicles. If law enforcement sees any trucks on I-77 in the designated construction zone, truckers will be cited.
“This job is not going to be without its frustrations,” Goins said. “However, if people will bear with us and be safe in the work zone and slow down, we’re hoping to have a better roadway at the end of this project.”