Skip to comments.Crashes double on Exit 14 around construction projects (I-81, Abingdon, Virginia)
Posted on 12/21/2017 4:02:57 AM PST by Tolerance Sucks Rocks
ABINGDON, Va. Crashes in the construction zone around Interstate 81s Exit 14 in Abingdon more than doubled between 2015, the year before the project started, and 2017, according to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles.
There were 67 crashes reported between Exits 10 and 17 in 2017, while the number of crashes in that stretch was 36 in 2015, according to the DMV. There were 72 crashes in 2016, the year the project began.
Between Dec. 8-10, there were two accidents on that stretch of highway, including a one-vehicle crash that resulted in a fatality and a tractor-trailer that ran off the road and overturned.
A spokeswoman for the Virginia Department of Transportation, which is reconstructing the exit and making other improvements, blames speeding and driver error.
The accident data we have received from Virginia State Police attributes the accidents to driver error and speeding, said Michelle Earl, communications manager for VDOTs Bristol District. None were attributed to construction activities.
The State Police, which monitors traffic violations and crashes along I-81, said traffic summonses have increased around the work zone.
The majority of the violations are for speeding within the active work zone, said VSP Sgt. Mike Willis, commander of Area 27, which covers Bristol, Washington and Scott counties.
Improvements to the Exit 14 area began in January 2016 and arent expected to be completed until fall 2018, according to Earl.
The interchange is undergoing the replacement of two bridges, separation of the northbound exit and entrance ramps and other improvements.
We have made some milestones since the beginning of the project, Earl said. We opened the new ramp on the northbound side, completed one side of the bridge and are currently working on the southbound side right now.
A team of VDOT officials from the Bristol District recently looked at accident reports from the past four years and monitor work zones for safety on a daily and weekly basis, she added.
We realize the traffic pattern from Exit 10 to mile-marker 15 along I-81 is different, Earl said. We are constantly ensuring traffic is flowing properly in our work zones. Our teams are performing daily checks, and we have a manager who will assess traffic flow in that area every two weeks.
She added that digital signs, a number of work zone signs, cones and barrier walls where needed are being used to help keep drivers safe. The speed limit has also been reduced from 70 mph to 60 mph in that stretch.
Many motorists who travel in that area of Abingdon said on Facebook that they avoid the work zone area as much as possible.
I dont feel safe traveling at all in the construction zone, wrote Bristol, Tennessee, resident Josh Maddox. Between the narrow lanes and idiot drivers its a death trap.
Michelle Leonard, of Bristol, Virginia, wrote, Avoid as much as possible. Tailgaters and speeders, including tractor-trailers, asking for accidents.
Roderick Mullins, a native of Southwest Virginia, said he never felt safe when traveling through the Exit 14 area.
Tractor trailers and vehicles barreling through at higher than posted speeds and the original exit ramp must have been designed by a clown in the Ringling Brothers Circus. With all the traffic congestion, I go further up the interstate and take one of the other two exits but they are just as bad for traffic congestion. Its a no win situation either way along the three exits into Abingdon.
Bristol, Virginia, resident Katie Owens wrote: The problem is not the construction. The project was necessary and will lead to a much safer travel experience for all. The issue has and always will be reckless, inconsiderate, and underqualified drivers. I dont see that changing, but hope the new design will minimize the risk as much as possible.
While Earl understands the frustrations of motorists, she wants drivers to understand that work zone speed limit signs are posted for a reason and will remain until construction is complete.
The best advice is to go the posted speed limit, Earl said. We realize that we have a long work zone from Exit 10 to [mile marker] 15 with multiple projects. Going the posted speed limit is the safest way for drivers to stay safe.
Idiot Drivers Ping.
Wow, 2 years on 5 mile stretch of interstate..... Does anyone see a problem with this?
Construction zones always show an increase in crashes.
Nothing new here.
Driver just can’t handle change well.
In southern PA the worst speeding and tailgating is by VA drivers....yes, they are worse than the Marylanders...and that is saying something.
Drivers just can't bring themselves to SLOW DOWN and follow at a safe distance.
Neuva Joisey has them both beat. If an NJ car doesn’t have its front/rear bashed-in, it’s likely an out-of-state vehicle.
If drivers convicted of speeding through works zones had their licenses supended for a few months there’d be a **** of a lot less speeding through work zones.
NO one knows how to drive in a Construction zone, ice storm, blizzard, dry pavement etc except ME(YOU) and the person I(YOU) am talking to at the time.
AND I am not so sure about YOU(him/her/it/) etc etc
I regularly use exit 14 on my way to see a client in Lebanon Va.
To say the massive construction is a mess is a large understatement.
The bridge removal and construction is an exercise in construction scheduling that was accomplished with skill. The northbound exit was confusing in that access changed to accommodate the construction operations.
he article and comments are late because exit 14 is now functioning per the new design.
I-81 is a fast moving road, and people try to hustle through the construction zones without slowing down. This is a recipe for disaster.
I drive this road every other week, and when I hit a construction zone, I slow down and get to the right. I don’t give a hoot what traffic is doing. They can go around me if they want to speed.
I would rather get hit with a 15 MPH differential speed from the rear than slam head on into something at 65 MPH.
If it starts getting hairy, I just turn on my emergency flashers. I will not be buffaloed into speeding up. Not going to happen. Those speed limits are there for a reason, particularly in the construction zones.
If ten percent of vehicles would comply with the speed limit, the rest of the traffic would have to slow down.
The I in I-81 stands for Idiots. I live a few miles from it.
Going the 60 MPH instead of 70 MPH for five miles costs the driver an additional 43 seconds. People are dying over 43 seconds.
It must be a Western Va thing but people on I-81 here don’t drive that fast. The problem is that they slow down or stop for everything. I usually drive around the speed limit and I don’t get passed that much. But an 18-wheeler will pull out into the left lane to pass someone and then slow to 45 in a 65 on a hill. Once the brake lights come on, all Hell breaks loose.
Of course, I think we are more mountainous here between Wytheville and Harrisonburg
Thanks for the ping.
Haven’t been through that area in quite a while but speed has always been a problem in that area.
Construction zone + speeding = unnecessary mayhem and death.
I-81 has been undergoing major construction for around 15 years, maybe longer.
Much of it’s distance cuts down the mountain spine of VA. Dig down 3 feet and you hit solid rock, that makes it a harder/longer job.
Bridge steel is all special order to length and other factors, creating times when work stops and starts.
When the speed limit was 55 mph the highway and it’s old exits were adequate.
When the speed limit rose to 65 mph it made the old design exit/entry ramps dangerous.
All things considered 2-5 years of construction on that 5 mile stretch ain’t bad.
>> In southern PA the worst speeding and tailgating is by VA drivers....yes, they are worse than the Marylanders <<
As a native Southerner who loves the land of his birth and who travels I-81 a lot, I can assure you that the tailgating, speeding and dangerous lane changing gets even worse after you cross the line from VA into TN!
“If ten percent of vehicles would comply with the speed limit, the rest of the traffic would have to slow down.”
There you go bringing logic and commonsense into the discussion.
I am definitely a fellow right lane speed limit follower. ESPECIALLY in construction zones.
“In southern PA the worst speeding and tailgating is by VA drivers...”
Those are most likely northern expatriates. :-)
Believe me, TN is much worse.
Talking about speeders and tailgaters, been on the PA turnpike lately?
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