The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

December 13, 2012

Our Readers Speak - Thursday, December 13, 2012

Safety important with all W.Va. road projects

Recently my wife and I were traveling between Jumping Branch and Shady Spring on W.Va. 3 and we encountered a work crew erecting guard rails along the roadway. Everyone familiar with W.Va. 3 knows the road is steep and very curvy.

Before we reached the work site we saw the usual signs advising us road work ahead, be prepared to stop and one-lane road ahead. The last sign was just a picture of a traffic signal, then at the point where you usually find a flag person, there was a portable device with a working traffic light in our lane. The light was red and two or three cars were waiting for the green.

I remarked to my wife I was glad we were not first in line because if the light malfunctioned, as all man-made devices are prone to do sooner or later, we could be involved in a head on collision. This time the light worked properly and we proceeded on our way.

A couple of days later we arrived at the same place to find the traffic signal flashing red and about a dozen cars waiting. Flashing red usually means stop and proceed with caution. Of course no one wants to enter a blind curve on the wrong side of a road, so nothing was moving except an occasional vehicle from the opposite direction.

After we sat there about 15 minutes trying to figure out who to call, someone near the front got out of their vehicle and walked to the work site to advise them of the situation and we finally got moving.

This caused me to ponder the situation more closely. I wondered what happens if an emergency vehicle enroute to a life and death situation came upon the flashing red light? Would they proceed and risk a head on collision or waste valuable time determining who to contact to get clearance.

As we passed the work crew I noticed the signs on all the work vehicles was PDK Construction, Pomeroy, Ohio. This confused me even more. Why would we hire an out-of-state company to work on our public roadways? Are there not any companies in West Virginia capable of driving pilings and bolting guard rails to them? Or was this company able to under bid all the West Virginia companies because they don’t pay a couple flag persons to direct the traffic? If they are willing to forego safety then they probably forego other things as well, such as quality of materials and workmanship.

In my opinion, any company being considered for a project in our state that could impact the health and/or safety of our citizens should be investigated to make sure they are responsible before any job is awarded regardless of how low or high the bid is.

Joe Bennett

Jumping Branch