Charleston, WV, intersection a ‘nightmare’ for truckers

Construction on an unfinished portion of U.S. 35 in Putnam County, WV, has created a dangerous intersection that truckers in the area say is causing a nightmare for big rigs trying to negotiate the highway.

On May 10, officials had to close the Buffalo Bridge, officially known as W.Va. 869, and a four-mile section of U.S. 35 after a tractor-trailer overturned at the intersection. Within the space of a quarter-mile, drivers come off a hill into a sharp turn at the bridge and just after the span must negotiate an intersection with W.Va. 817.

It was not the first tractor-trailer crash to occur there, and officials said it won’t be the last, according to a report in the Charleston Daily Mail.

“It’s going to continue to happen,” said Frank Chapman, Putnam County emergency services director.

Eight truck crashes occurred at the intersection between 2010 and 2012, according to the state Dept. of Transportation. Chapman thinks it’s only a matter of time until someone is killed.  

Randy Lipscomb, 57, a truck driver for L.R. Lipscomb LLC told the Mail the intersection is a nightmare for truck drivers.

“It’s a very poor setup,” Lipscomb said. “For the amount of traffic going through there, you’ve got far too many intersections all at once.”

Lipscomb said truckers hit the tricky stretch accustomed to the 65 mph limit on the preceding four-lane section of the highway. Although signs are posted warning to slow to 40 mph, truckers not familiar with the area don’t realize how quickly they have to slow down to make the turn safely.

“Five miles an hour too fast and you’re SOL,” Lipscomb said.

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