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Slow down in work zones

Traffic delays are inevitable these days.

All around the Ohio Valley, road crews are scrambling to make repairs. In some cases, they are rushing to complete jobs before cold, wintry weather conditions make progress impossible. In other areas, workers are just getting started on endeavors that are expected to span years.

Such is the case in the Wheeling area on Interstate 70. There, traffic is being restricted from west of Bridgeport across the state line and well into West Virginia’s Northern Panhandle. Lane restrictions on the Fort Henry Bridge over Wheeling Island and the Ohio River are particularly tight.

The West Virginia Division of Highways and its contractor, Swank Construction, are in the very early stages of launching the “I-70 Bridges Project” — a more than $200 million plan that calls for repair or replacement of 26 highway bridges. Work isn’t expected to begin in earnest until February, and it is anticipated it will take three years to complete.

The maintenance and upgrades are needed, officials say, due to dangers presented by rusting steel and eroding concrete. One doesn’t need to be an expert to recognize the problems when they drive over the deep potholes in the roadway and pass missing chunks of curbs and exposed rebar along the way.

But while area residents may recognize the need for the work, they do not always display the patience necessary to allow it to happen. Already several accidents have occurred in local construction zones, and more are certain to follow. Investigating officers have attributed most of those crashes to excessive speed through work areas.

Local drivers are not alone on these sections of roadway, and those from out of town can’t know what to expect. But those of us who do know construction is taking place need to do our part to reduce the risk of collisions in those areas. Let’s slow down, pay attention and help keep everyone safe.

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