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Surprising slow down

Reduced speed limit is catching area motorists by surprise

Photos by Scott McCloskey The speed limit was reduced last month to 45 mph along most of Interstate 70 in West Virginia ahead of the I-70 Bridges Project.

WHEELING — The 45 mph speed limit recently implemented on Interstate 70 in areas well beyond work sites is for safety precautions and part of an effort to get motorists more accustomed to slowing down ahead of construction sites during the I-70 Bridge Project in Ohio County, according to West Virginia Division of Highway officials.

DOH officials are advising motorists to slow down and pay attention for new traffic patterns in the coming months as delays should be expected as speed limit reductions have been put in place at those different locations.

The 45 mph area includes I-70, just east of the Wheeling Tunnels to the Dallas Pike exit, with the exception of lane crossovers areas and work sites where the speed limit drops to 35 mph and as low as 25 mph in more congested areas.

The work zone speed limit for construction projects are established during project development by highway officials, DOH Area Engineer Mike Witherow said. He said the state Department of Transportation made it a priority to promote safe travel through the I-70 Bridges Project workzone, not only by following appropriate guidelines, but “going above and beyond,” which is designed to allow motorists to enter a work zone alert and undistracted. More highway and traffic caution signage has been apparent along I-70 throughout Ohio County in recent weeks.

“Recently, the work zone speed limit was implemented through the entire I-70 Bridges Project with the intent to provide a more consistent speed through the entire work zone rather than to have it fluctuate,” Witherow explained.

In addition, Witherow said the contractor will begin closing lanes within the segment between the Wheeling Tunnel and Elm Grove in the next month or two. He said motorists are reminded to pay attention for new traffic patterns and to slow down in the work zone as delays will occur and should be expected, particularly during peak travel hours. Motorists are also encouraged to adjust their travel times accordingly.

The DOH announced last year that a full closure of the I-70 westbound lanes just east of the Wheeling Tunnel is scheduled to last approximately nine months beginning Feb. 1 to allow for the replacement of the I-70 “Fulton Bridges” that span above Wheeling Creek. The eastbound side of that section of highway is scheduled for a full replacement next year.

Sheriff Tom Howard said his deputies have their hands full trying to keep speeding at a minimum on I-70 in Ohio County, especially along Two Mile Hill between Elm Grove and The Highlands where speeding has been more of a problem. He said deputies have stopped scores of motorists in recent weeks, issuing warnings and in severe cases, speeding tickets.

His deputies issued 21 warnings for speeding and wrote seven speeding tickets on I-70 between 6 a.m. Wednesday and 9 a.m. Thursday, according to the department’s records.

Deputies and Wheeling police vehicles continue to be spotted on a daily basis enforcing the speed limit along I-70 in the Wheeling area. The Ohio Highway Patrol also has been seen enforcing the speed limit in the eastbound lanes of I-70 in Bridgeport prior to where the highway is merged into one lane at the Fort Henry Bridge.

Beginning today through Jan. 27, there will be single lane closures along Ohio 7 in both directions between the hours of 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. between the north and southbound Bridgeport exits as part of the continuing rehabilitation work on the I-70 Bridges project above Ohio 7, according to DOH.

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