WEIRTON - Concerned with the frequency of collisions at the U.S. Route 22 west ramp on Three Springs Drive, city officials will spend the next week considering how best to alter the traffic pattern to reduce the risks.
West Virginia Department of Highways Traffic Engineer Jay Wallace reviewed four scenarios DOH thinks could make the busy intersection less dangerous and asked council for its recommendation. While DOH would have the final say, he said their wishes would be taken into consideration.
"Look at it, study it, (tell us) if there's something we're not seeing," he said, adding they "don't want to fix (one) problem and create something else."
ROAD TALK — Weirton Police Chief Bruce Marshall and Department of Highways Traffic Engineer Jay Wallace discussed fixes for a high-accident stretch of Three Springs Drive on Tuesday. -- Linda Harris
City officials say northbound drivers attempting the left turn onto the Route 22 ramp are colliding with southbound traffic with alarming frequency.
Wallace said part of the problem is southbound drivers use their right turn signal to maneuver into the right-hand lane, "and the movement doesn't turn the (turn) signal off." Some northbound drivers see the turn signals blinking, expect the oncoming cars to turn onto the ramp and proceed to make their left; by the time they realize the oncoming traffic isn't turning, it's too late.
Other times, he said cars making the left onto the ramp appear to be accelerating to "try to beat southbound drivers to the yield" sign. "It's aggressive driving by left-turning vehicles," he said, adding that fixing the problem will require more than putting up a new sign or two.
"(Putting) more and more signs confuses drivers," he said. "You want to try and be selective about what you're putting out there."
Generally speaking, the scenarios under consideration to fix the problems involve using pavement markings on Three Springs Drive to narrow southbound traffic to one lane for a short stretch and moving the northbound left-turn lane, though Wallace pointed out narrowing the roadway, however briefly, is going to reduce capacity on the recently widened stretch of highway.
"The fact is, there's so much traffic on Three Springs Drive that no matter what you do, you're never going to stop accidents," police Chief Bruce Marshall said.
Also representing the city were Mayor George Kondik, City Manager Valerie Means, Fire Chief Jerry Shumate, City Clerk Nicole Davis and Councilmen George Ash, David Dalrymple, Ron Jones and Fred Marsh.
Dalrymple called for the study in January after his father was involved in a wreck at the intersection. At the time he said that in talking to police, he learned there'd been "a lot of accidents in that area and a lot of near misses" and believed the safety issue needed to be addressed.
(Harris can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)