Please practice patience on the roads

For most of us, this time of year means a shift in weather, fall festivals, a change in color in the trees, football, pumpkins, apples and hoodies.

It’s also a time for certain road maintenance projects, and an opportunity for all of us to keep in mind ways to stay safe while behind the wheel.

This is primarily brought to mind because of the ongoing upkeep on the Veterans Memorial Bridge and some of the displays of inpatience I’ve seen by motorists crossing the bridge over the last few months. It’s also taking into consideration a handful of automobile crashes in the same area in recent weeks.

I’ve personally witnessed vehicles speed past others in an attempt to make it first to the bottleneck into the construction zone going west onto the bridge. I’ve seen others winding their way through traffic, crossing lanes (sometimes multiple) without signaling, many appear to be going faster than the 45 mph limit that has been posted for months.

That’s not just a safety concern for other motorists, it’s also an issue for the men and women who are working on the bridge. Those plastic cones aren’t going to protect them in the event a dangerous driver swerves into the wrong lane.

After the two recent crashes, traffic was backed up for quite some time. I happened to get caught up in some of it on my way back to Steubenville Thursday morning – almost two hours later – and, again, saw instances of vehicles swerving between lanes attempting to get a better position, and even one vehicle driving along the shoulder of the highway in an effort to bypass some of the backed-up traffic.

I understand we all have schedules we are trying to keep, but that risks making an already difficult situation worse. Stay calm. You’ll make it to your destination eventually, and not compound the problems for yourself or others.

We’ve received word of some planned maintenance in another section of U.S. 22 to begin in the coming days. It, too, will involve restricting lanes to allow crews to access their targeted areas of the highway, which means drivers will have to pay closer attention when it’s time to merge.

I understand there are bound to be those who are not from our area, and are unfamiliar with the current traffic patterns, but for local residents there is no excuse. We know these conditions are there, and have time to prepare for them.

There are probably another couple of months where road construction projects will be taking place. On top of that, the fall paving season is upon us on our highways and in our communities. There will be instances of traffic backups and route changes pretty much every day for the next several weeks.

The West Virginia Division of Highways sends out notifications for many of these projects, and we publish the ones we receive. Many of our communities do the same through media announcements, websites and social media.

This is a good reminder to be mindful of the activities taking place in our area, and to also remember your safe driving lessons while you are behind the wheel.

Stay informed of local road conditions. Give yourself some extra time, when possible, if you think you might face some delays. Practice patience in the event you do find some unexpected obstacle. Don’t make things worse for the drivers surrounding you.

(Howell, a resident of Colliers, is managing editor of The Weirton Daily Times, and can be contacted at [email protected] or followed on Twitter @CHowellWDT)


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