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Storm Highway :: The case for de-icers on I-64's Oakwood (Fort Hill) Bridge

The case for a de-icing system on I-64's Eugene A. Carter Bridge - Charleston, WV

By DAN ROBINSON
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25 Years of Storm Observing
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Play Video
VIDEOS: Video clip list with many Fort Hill Bridge incidents: See Videos

Video: Carter Bridge Overview

DRIVING TIPS: Icy Bridge Safety

CHARLESTON, WV - As a freelance photojournalist and storm observer covering extreme weather around the United States, I have seen my fair share of dangerous weather. Hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and lightning seem to get all of the attention as nature's biggest threats to people - but it is actually icy roads during winter weather that pose the biggest risk of injury and property damage for the average person. Few people in this country will find themselves face-to-face with a hurricane, tornado or flash flood in their lifetime. But each and every one of us will likely encounter icy roads while driving, many times each a year. Most of us have never seen a tornado or been in a hurricane, but nearly all of us have experienced first-hand what it is like to lose control of a car on a slick road. An indeed, of all of the types of severe weather I have personally experienced, it is by far icy roads that invoke the most apprehension from me. It is a threat from nature that is perilously underrated.

A National Story
The Carter Bridge and its accident-prone reputation has been featured nationwide on the following:

- CNN
- The Weather Channel
- Inside Edition
- Good Morning America
- CourtTV / TruTV
- ABC News
- The Associated Press
- Local TV newscasts across the USA
- Newspapers across the USA

Deborah Norville and Carter Bridge on Inside Edition

Carter Bridge on CNN

Carter Bridge on CNN
The most dangerous type of winter weather threat comes from icy bridges. Those signs you always see ARE true - bridges cool faster than roadways on solid ground, and will accumulate ice and snow long before the rest of the roads. They catch drivers by surprise, who are traveling at full speed because the rest of the roads are either clear or just a little wet. The consequences of driving onto ice at highway speeds can be catastrophic, as the loss of control and impacts happen much faster than in most other conditions. Slides are often unrecoverable and chain-reaction type accidents are common, as additional vehicles will often lose control in the exact same location.

There are very few locations in the world where car accidents are so predictable that they can be consistently captured on camera time and time again. Charleston, West Virginia's Eugene A. Carter Memorial Bridge (sometimes referred to as the Fort Hill or Oakwood Bridge or Oakwood Road Interchange) possibly takes the first place title in this category. This bridge is located on Interstate 64 in downtown Charleston at the Oakwood Road interchange over the Kanawha River. Drivers heading eastbound encounter a sudden 90-degree turn across the river. This notorious sharp curve becomes a literal vehicle trap, particulary during winter precipitation.

Since 2003, I have personally witnessed at least 40 vehicles involved in accidents (as they happened) on the Carter Bridge! Many of these incidents I have caught on camera.

This video describes why this bridge is so dangerous and presents a de-icing system as the potential solution to the problem. After years of covering this bridge for television broadcasts, I can say with confidence that the potential for a severe crash or pileup with many casulaties is significant. This bridge's accident-prone reputation has been the subject of television news and documentaries nationwide.

Charleston and Kanawha County residents, I ask that you do three important things:

  • Contact your elected officials to support the installation of de-icing equipment at this location and other high-risk accident spots in the area.
     
  • Pay attention to this and other bridges in the area and SLOW DOWN while driving during the winter. Bridges WILL ice over before the rest of the roadways! All it takes is a light dusting of snow to make bridges dangerously slick.
     
  • Pass on the warning to your family and friends about the dangers of driving during wintry weather.

With your help and attentiveness, we can make the roadways safer for you and your loved ones during the winter.

Play Video
VIDEOS: Video clip list with many Fort Hill Bridge incidents: See Videos

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