Storm Highway by Dan Robinson
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                   Thursday, August 2, 2007 - 12:49PM

Cameras, sensors to be installed along I-64

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A car wrecks on the icy I-64 curve at the Oakwood Road interchange.

An article in the Charleston Daily Mail today announced that the West Virginia Department of Highways will be installing closed-circuit cameras and pavement sensors along Charleston area interstates, including at the dangerous I-64 bridge and curve at the Oakwood Road interchange. The sensors and cameras will be used to monitor road conditions and warn drivers via large sign displays down the road. This may help to reduce the number of accidents at the bridge during light snowfall events that ice over the bridge surface.

I have been preparing a letter to the WVDOH outlining the dangers at this bridge, but it looks like they are already taking action to make the bridge safer. While the planned systems will improve the situation, the one thing I would like to see done is the installation of a de-icing system on at least the western end of the eastbound bridge deck. This is the most accident-prone part of the bridge because the start of the icy bridge deck is hidden by the sharp curve as drivers approach it. This causes drivers to not see the ice until they drive on to it, at which time it is too late for them to slow down to avoid losing control on the curve. The electronic signs may catch a few drivers' attention, but I don't think it will do much to get people to slow down before they drive onto the bridge.

The westbound lanes of the bridge are still dangerous, but not as accident-prone. Since the bridge extends for nearly a mile before the curve, westbound drivers have already encountered the ice long before they reach the curve - giving them ample time to slow down.

At any rate, it is good to see steps being taken to make this spot safer.

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