WEIRTON - Six accidents at the intersection of Three Springs Drive and U.S. Route 22 West over the past 12 months prompted City Council Wednesday to ask the state Department of Highways to make the newly widened highway safer for motorists.
It was Ward Six Councilman David Dalrymple who brought the issue to council, saying there's been a spike in accidents at the confusingly configured intersection.
"It's dangerous," he said. "My father-in-law was actually involved in a car accident there a couple weeks ago. He's OK, but in talking to an officer (later), he told me there've been a lot of accidents in that area and a lot of near misses. I felt the safety needed to be addressed."
At the special meeting Wednesday, council adopted a resolution asking Gov. Earl Tomblin and Transportation Secretary Paul A. Mattox to "address the confusing and unsafe direction of the traffic flow" resulting from the new traffic patterns. They're going to send a copy of that resolution, along with copies of the accident reports, letters of concern from police Chief Bruce Marshall and City Manager Valerie Means, and the traffic commission's recommendations to both men.
"The problem is that a lot of people driving through there for the first time are very confused about which lane to be in," Mayor George Kondik said. "We appreciate their efforts to improve Three Springs Drive, but we just think (something) needs to be done to make it clearer for drivers."
Ward 3 Councilman Fred Marsh said the six accidents "probably shouldn't have happened."
"U.S. 22 West seems to be causing the big problem," he added. "(Drivers) coming from Wal-Mart and making the turn to go to Steubenville, that's where the problems are."
So far, Marsh said no one has been killed in that stretch, "but traffic is increasing, drivers are older."
"That area from St. Thomas Drive to U.S. 22, that's a problem," he said. "Something needs to be done there. Traffic in that intersection is increasing substantially."
Marsh said there's been talk of adding new signage or reconfiguring traffic signals, adding that "several different ideas have been floated - let's see what they come back with."
Dalrymple said the prior city administration had asked the state to take a second look at the traffic pattern "but nothing was done about it, so we decided to take another try."
"I fear somebody getting killed in that area or maimed in some way," Dalrymple added. "It really needs be taken care of before it gets that point. So far we've been lucky, there've been no fatalities in that area, but it's a matter of time before something that dreadful happens. We need to get them to do whatever they can to get the problems taken care of. It's very dangerous. Traffic has increased through there, that's the reason the road was widened in the first place.
"Hopefully, the evidence we're sending down ... will prod them," he said. "The sooner (it's fixed), the better."
(Harris can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)