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Potholes flatten tires

Photo by Scott McCloskey Roland Gellinger of Woodsfield repairs a flat tire for a friend along Interstate 70 west at the bottom of Two-Mile Hill on Thursday morning.

WHEELING — Workers were scrambling Thursday morning to toss “cold patch” asphalt into large potholes that formed recently in the westbound lanes of Interstate 70 near the The Highlands exit at the top of Two-Mile Hill after the rough surface caused tire damage to multiple vehicles traveling through the area.

Numerous motorists could be seen pulled off to the right side of the westbound lanes past the exit 10 on-ramp with flat tires throughout the morning. Towing company crews were also spotted either towing or assisting stranded motorists, and at least one West Virginia Courtesy Patrol vehicle was seen assisting a motorist with a flat tire.

Roland Gellinger of Woodsfield, who stopped to fix a flat tire for a family friend, said he noticed a few other motorists stranded along that section of highway with flat tires.

The driver whose tire Gellinger was repairing said she noticed two other motorists dealing with flat tires the same time she pulled off the right side of the highway. The woman, who did not identify herself, said she couldn’t avoid hitting the row of potholes where the new “high friction surface” was applied last fall at the top of the hill due to a tractor-trailer passing her in the left lane.

She said the bottom of Two-Mile Hill is a very dangerous area to deal with a tire issue — especially with tractor-trailers speeding by so close to the edge of the road. She said she is hopeful the West Virginia Division of Highways will get the potholes repaired as soon as possible — before a bad accident occurs in that area as a result of the potholes.

Ohio County Sheriff Tom Howard said the department received a “couple of calls” from motorists with issues in that area Thursday morning. He said he has talked to DOH officials about the condition of the highway in areas where the pavement is “breaking up” at the top of the hill. He said DOH officials had crews out trying to repair the holes with cold patch asphalt during the morning.

“There’s one particular hole I guess that got fairly deep. … I’ve talked to them about that because it was breaking up and they are suppose to be working on a solution to get that fixed,” Howard said. “That one little section right by exit 10 … is breaking up. We’re still trying to keep them (motorists) down to 45 mph. … We’re still running patrols.”

DOH District 6 Manager Tony Clark said crews have been monitoring that area and are trying their best to make the necessary repairs to the damaged section of the highway by putting “cold mix” in the holes — sometimes multiples times a day.

“We might end up just rotomilling the pavement in that area. It won’t be perfect, but that might be all that we’re able to do. We may try and see if we can get a hot mix plant to fire up and put some asphalt in there,” Clark said. “Obviously it’s not a good time of year to being doing that, but we will try and do whatever we can do.”

Clark said it appears a layer of asphalt beneath the high friction surface is being torn up by the friction created by traffic since the surface was applied last fall.

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