The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Latest News

November 22, 2012

Turnpike braces for holiday traffic

If getting to grandma’s house for a Thanksgiving repast with all the trimmings, and cutting through the woods means a detour across the West Virginia Turnpike, the best advice is to prepare for a long ride.

Provided, that is, you’re traveling at the start of the long, four-day weekend.

Sandwiched around Thanksgiving itself, Wednesday and Sunday are the heaviest travel days, especially the final day of the holiday period.

“We try to alert people to schedule their travel so they travel over the Turnpike either before 10 or 11 o’clock in the morning on Sunday, or after 5 or 6 in the evening, if they want to avoid some congestion,” Turnpike Manager Greg Barr said Wednesday.

“Sometimes, that’s hard to do. The best time to travel would be Monday or Saturday and avoid Sunday altogether. Lots of times people don’t have a choice. I know I never did. Kids get out of school and you have to wait until they get home Wednesday before you can go anywhere, or you’ve got a job and you have to work and can’t leave until you get off work.”

Many need to be back on the job by Monday, and others simply want to hang out with relatives as long as possible so they put off the return drive until Sunday.

“That’s OK,” Barr said.

“But just for people to know, it will be busy, not only on the Turnpike, but on roads everywhere across the country, Sunday especially.”

When the Fourth of July or Christmas or New Year’s fall on a Friday or Monday, the Turnpike sees a huge volume of traffic, but since Thanksgiving is permanently set on the fourth Thursday, that means an extended travel, the Turnpike manager noted.

All tollgates will be open at the three plazas and fully manned.

“We’ll have extra lane walkers so we never have to even close a lane for a few minutes for somebody who has to go to the bathroom,” Barr said.

“If somebody needs a break, the lane walker is right there and steps into the booth while the other person steps out. We keep processing traffic. We’re going to have extra maintenance workers out there to help any people that have breakdowns or need assistance so we can keep traffic moving along the highway.”

If needed, the tandem booths will swing into service at times when lines are backed up at the plazas.

“In the past, what’s normally happened is tandems don’t really have to be used until Sunday,” Barr said.

“And the reason is the compression of traffic on Wednesday. People are leaving at different times of that day and it’s spread out a little better. But on Sunday, everybody is coming back, so at some point in time, they all meet on the Turnpike at the same time.”

Extra units of the Courtesy Patrol will be in force on the two busy days of the holiday, and maintenance personnel will be on hand to complement their efforts. Besides that, Troop 7 of the State Police, which blankets the Princeton-to-Charleston toll road, will patrol to assure that travelers are taken care of and that none jeopardize others by breaking traffic laws.

“We’ve got a real good relationship with the wrecker services around the Turnpike,” Barr said.

“With our focus on that new incident management plan and the speed of efforts to get a lane opened as soon as possible, we really get a lot of support from the local wrecker services and fire departments. If something does happen, we have a lot of people on it in a hurry.”

At times, tractor-trailers jackknife, blocking one lane, or even both, so the immediate goal is to drag the huge rig off to the side of the road so traffic can resume.

“We can always come back later and unload the trailer and do what we have to do on the side of the road and there is no hold-up to traffic,” the Turnpike manager said.

This week witnessed an Indian summer-like atmosphere, with temperatures hugging the 60-degree mark under sharp, blue skies, and that, Barr said, is a major factor, since the weather isn’t likely to cause any heartburn, as far as snow and ice are concerned.

“Even rain,” he said.

“You know how it is. It seems like every time it rains, there are more wrecks and not just on the Turnpike. There’s just something about human nature and the rain. All of a sudden you’ve got wrecks. People just don’t slow down for road conditions, for whatever reason. So, rain is not a good thing either for travel.”

— E-mail:

Text Only
Latest News
  • Video: Meat market

    The price of beef has everyone in a stew these days, and it doesn’t stop with the “what’s for dinner” protein. Prices of pork and chicken are on the rise, as well.

    April 17, 2014

  • Child care in state lacking in quality

    Child care programs of minimum or unrated quality are watching over about 93 percent of West Virginia children enrolled in them, a report released Wednesday said.

    April 17, 2014

  • Still alive, TWV’S 54th season is all ‘Hatfields and McCoys’

    Although the schedule is a bit different than originally planned, Theatre West Virginia Act II is officially alive, with 17 scheduled showings of “Hatfields and McCoys.”
    The curtain will rise for its 54th season on July 11, and Manager Scott Hill said these 17 shows will be produced with the same quality theater patrons have come to know and love over the years.

    April 17, 2014

  • jobfair Spring Job Fair: 400 job seekers meet 22 employers

    More than 400 people came looking for a new job Wednesday at The Register-Herald’s Spring Job Fair at the Tamarack Conference Center.
    This year there were 22 area employers in attendance which gave potential hires more options in many different fields.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Train derailment reported in Mercer County

    The derailment occurred in the Rock area of Mercer County, according to Norfolk Southern spokesman Robin Chapman.

    April 16, 2014

  • Report: High-quality child care lacking in state

    Child care programs of minimum or unrated quality are watching over about 93 percent of West Virginia children enrolled in them, a report released Wednesday said.

    April 16, 2014

  • Rahall raises $324k in WVa’s 3rd; Jenkins, $194k

    Democrat U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall raised almost $324,000 last quarter for his contested re-election bid, while GOP challenger Evan Jenkins banked about $193,500.

    April 16, 2014

  • State regional jails ban touching during visits

    Concerns about drug contraband have prompted a ban on regional jail inmates touching loved ones during supervised contact visits.

    April 16, 2014

  • Renew W.Va. car registration online

    State residents strapped for time got a break Tuesday when Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and Acting Division of Motor Vehicles Director Steve Dale announced new DMV online options for renewing vehicle registration.

    April 16, 2014

  • Manchin says mines should speak out about coal

    The Democratic senator leading the battle against the White House’s strategy to fight climate change urged the mining industry on Tuesday to speak out about coal’s role in providing affordable, reliable electricity to the country to help combat strict new emissions rules for coal-fired power plants.

    April 16, 2014