I-81 Construction: Drivers Call it a Danger Zone

I-81 Construction: Drivers Call it a Danger Zone

Construction along I-81 is trying to keep up with the Eastern Panhandle's development boom, but some drivers say they don't feel safe.
FALLING WATERS, WV - Many drivers are questioning their safety when commuting along the construction route of I-81, between Marlowe and Martinsburg. In just nine months, the Berkeley County Sheriff's Office received 400 reports on traffic accidents along 81.

"It's a very dangerous section. The construction has caused the lanes to be compressed a bit, and a lot of big trucks are on that, and a lot of speeding. I don't feel very safe," says David Minnis, a regular commuter.

The six-mile long construction lining 81 is adding a concrete median wall and widening traffic to three lanes in both directions. Project Manager, Pete Ahern, says they're sticking to the original time frame, expecting to complete work by July 24, 2013.

"We're working six days a week now to try to get as much done before the winter as we can. So basically twelve hours a day, six days a week," says Ahern.

Some common driver complaints are merging onto 81 from a dead stop and driving next to big trucks without any highway shoulders.

"In case something happens, there's not much room to maneuver," says Minnis.

Meanwhile, the construction workers have complaints of their own

"If they could just go the posted speed limit of 55 instead of 75, 80; trying to do anything out there with people going that fast makes it tough. It's not safe for the drivers or our guys back behind the wall," says Ahern.

Some commuters say they're used to cringing at the sight of the orange barrels, but just think: those orange barrels are helping to make a median to keep you safer than before on I-81.

Contractors also say the construction on the Falling Waters Bridge was slowed from weather and confined working space, but it should be finished by April 2013.
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