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West Virginia to start new measure designed to make section of I-77 safer



Checking equipment on tractor-trailers is one strategy for making a dangerous section of Interstate 77 in West Virginia safer to travel. (Courtesy: WEST VIRGINIA DOT)

PRINCETON, W.Va. — West Virginia officials say they hope some new measures will make a dangerous section of Interstate 77 safer to travel.

The Bluefield Daily Telegraph reports West Virginia Parkways Authority said it would lower the speed limit from 70 to 60 by the end of April, increase patrols and check tractor-trailers’ equipment more often.

Parkway General Manager Greg Barr made the comments Monday during a ceremony in which a bridge was dedicated to two Parkways to the late Nathan Andrew Thompson of Princeton and his nephew, 21-year-old Richard Nathaniel Lambert of Kegley. Both men, who were West Virginia Parkways employees, lost their lives as a result of an August 16, 2018, crash near mile marker 23.

A third Parkways Authority employee, Ethan Kestner, 19, of Princeton survived the crash. He has been recovering from his injuries, Barr said.

There have been several fatal crashes between mile marker 20 and mile marker 27, a section of Interstate 77 that goes down Flat Top Mountain into Mercer County. Barr said that members of the Princeton Rescue and families of the people who lost their lives to crashes have talked to the West Virginia Parkways Authority about ways to make the highway safer.

During the authority’s last board meeting, its members looked at a speed study that was done and put forward a motion to lower the speed limit. The speed limit between mile marker 20 and mile marker 27 will be lowered from 70 mph to 60 mph, Barr said. This mandatory speed limit goes into effect by the end of April.

A more immediate measure is to make a greater effort to increase State Police patrols to enforce the speed limits, Barr stated. A second measure has been to hire an additional state Public Service Commission officer – there were previously just two – to review and check the equipment on tractor-trailers. More reflective warning signs called chevrons will be placed at the bottom of Flat Top Mountain near the 20 mile marker to give truck drivers more advanced notice to slow down for the curves they are approaching.

Barr said the authority is also looking at installing barriers in the highway’s median.

Putting a truck stop on top of Flat Top Mountain so truck drivers can check their equipment before heading down the mountain is another option being considered, Barr stated; however, the training of future truck drivers has been a cause of concern.

“The trucking industry is in large growth now and is growing faster than it can find drivers,” he said. “They’re trying to get laws passed to allow 18 year olds to drive across country; the age limit is 21 now.”

Barr said he just wants to make sure that truck driver training is thorough “to make sure drivers are ready before they turn them loose.” Technology helps, but technology also “puts those big screens on their (dashboards)” and creates more distractions while driving.

“We’re trying to look at this comprehensively and doing a lot of different things to make that highway as safe as we can,” Barr stated after the dedication service. Barr said officials are trying to take a comprehensive approach to making the roadway there as safe as possible.



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The Nation

Big rig loaded with mail crashes in Little Rock; tractor ends up on guard rail



Part of a tractor hangs over the Interstate 440 railing after the driver couldn’t decide which ramp to take and crashed. (Courtesy: ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION)

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The old saying about those who deliver the mail goes something like this: “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”

But Sunday some indecision did.

The Arkansas Department of Transportation posted on its social media site that the driver of a tractor-trailer carrying a load of mail couldn’t decide which ramp to take off Interstate 440 Terminal Interchange with Interstate 30 and ended up striking the guard rail.

The tractor separated from the trailer and wound up hanging partially over the bridge railing.

Officials said one of the tractor’s fuel tanks became dislodged and fell onto Interstate 30 below causing an explosion and fire.

The driver was taken to a hospital, but her condition is unknown.

Traffic was delayed on both I-30 and I-440 which is the main thoroughfare between Little Rock and the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport.



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The Nation

Colorado DOT kicks off project to install media cable barriers on I-25



DENVER — The Colorado Department of Transportation kicked off a seven-month project in June that aims to install new median cable barriers along Interstate 25 between Pueblo and Colorado Springs as a safety measure to prevent median crossover crashes.

According to an article in the Journal of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, the Colorado agency noted in a June 14 statement that it is using a “multi-phased approach” based on vehicle crash history and traffic volumes to specifically locate the new cable median barriers – part of its Whole System – Whole Safety initiative that takes a systematic approach to safety that includes driving behaviors, the built environment, and operations.

“Improving the safety of Colorado’s transportation network by reducing the rate and severity of crashes and improving safety conditions for travelers is our main goal,” Shoshana Lew, executive director of the Colorado DOT, said in a statement. “The statewide program’s whole system approach is unique in how it brings together all areas of the driving experience, resulting in improved and enhanced safety for motorists.”

The $3.5 million project – expected to be completed by December – will remove any existing barrier structures and replace it with media cable barrier along with “added offset” from the travel lane and flattened median side slopes.

That will continue to eliminate vehicle cross-over crashes, the agency noted, while additionally reducing nuisance hits as the northbound cable barrier can be removed. The net effect will allow better maintenance access, reduced maintenance costs, better traffic flow, and further enhancing safety, Colorado DOT said.

A 68-page study wrapped up last year by the Center for Transportation Research and Education at Iowa State University determined that cable median barriers “significantly” reduce motor vehicle crash fatalities and injuries, though they do lead to an increase in “property-damage only” crashes, according to the collected data examined by the school’s researchers.

That study found that out of the 6,718 median-related crashes it examined over a nine-year period stretching from 2007 to 2015, cable media barrier safety devices reduced fatalities, incapacitating injuries, and non-incapacitating injuries by 68.7, 36.8, and 23.9 percent, respectively.



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The Nation

Love’s opens new facilities in Michigan, Illinois and Pennsylvania



The Hampshire, Illinois, location is located at 201 Love’s Crossing near Interstate 90 and U.S. Highway 20. (Courtesy: LOVE’S TRAVEL STOPS)

OKLAHOMA CITY — Love’s Travel Stops is now serving customers in three new locations — Bridgeport Charter Township, Michigan; Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania; and Hampshire, Illinois.

The Bridgeport Charter Township location at 6560 Dixie Highway (near Interstate 75 and Exit 144) adds 80 new jobs to Saginaw County and 87 truck parking spaces.

The Slippery Rock stop off Exit 105 and I-79, brings 40 jobs and 48 truck parking spaces.

The third location in Hampshire at 201 Love’s Crossing (near Interstate 90 and U.S. Highway 20), has 177 truck parking spaces and brings 80 jobs.

In total, Love’s is adding 312 truck parking spaces for professional drivers.

“These three locations place us in the perfect spots to serve more customers,” said Tom Love, executive chairman and founder of Love’s. “All are along major interstates that are popular for trade routes and leisure travel. We’re proud to add truck parking in areas where our customers need it.”

The travel stops are open 24/7 and offer many amenities.

Bridgeport, Michigan

More than 12,000 square feet of space, Hardee’s restaurant, 87 truck parking spaces, 87 car parking spaces, eight diesel bays, Speedco location on-site, four RV parking spaces, eight showers, laundry facilities, bean to cup gourmet coffee, brand-name snacks, Mobile to Go Zone with the latest electronics, CAT scale.

Hampshire, Illinois

More than 10,000 square feet of space, Arby’s restaurant, 177 truck parking spaces, 53 car parking spaces, nine diesel bays, Speedco location on-site, three RV parking spaces, seven showers, laundry facilities, bean to cup gourmet coffee, brand-name snacks, Mobile to Go Zone with the latest electronics, CAT scale.

Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania

More than 10,000 square feet of space, Subway restaurant, 48 truck parking spaces, 60 car parking spaces, seven diesel bays, Love’s Truck Tire Care center, two RV parking spaces, six showers, laundry facilities, bean to cup gourmet coffee, brand-name snacks, Mobile to Go Zone with the latest electronics, CAT scale.

In honor of the grand opening, Love’s will host ribbon cuttings and donate $2,000 to the Bridgeport Historical Society, Northern Butler County Feed My Sheep Food Cupboard in Slippery Rock and Hampshire High School.





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