WINFIELD, W.Va. -- Members of the Putnam County Transportation Committee and residents who have to drive U.S. 35 want state highways Commissioner Paul Mattox and other state leaders to explain when they plan to fix a dangerous intersection that was recently the site of a chemical spill.
On May 10, a tractor-trailer carrying glutaraldehyde, a hazardous chemical, overturned while trying to negotiate a turn onto old U.S. 35 at the bridge that connects Fraziers Bottom with Buffalo. The wreck shut down the road for almost 24 hours and renewed safety concerns about the dangerous intersection.
The wreck happened on an incomplete section of the four-lane upgrade of U.S. 35 that forces travelers onto the old two-lane until they can get back onto the four-lane highway in Mason County. Residents say the intersection is the site of constant accidents, including three other accidents the week of the chemical spill.
Complaints about the intersection were the main topic of discussion at a regular meeting of the Putnam County Transportation Committee on Monday. The committee was set up by county officials and the Putnam County Chamber of Commerce in 1988 to keep tabs on transportation issues throughout the county.
Residents and local highways officials are well aware of the problem with the intersection, where drivers coming off of the four-lane are forced to slow down either to cross the bridge to Buffalo or make a left turn to continue on U.S. 35. Everyone agrees that the intersection is poorly designed, that the turn is improperly banked, and that the turn is a lot worse than it appears to drivers unfamiliar with the area.
Steve Fellure, who lives nearby, said accidents are frequent. He said accidents have knocked down one streetlight near the intersection so many times that repair crews gave up replacing it.
Area resident Paul Rogers said eight streetlights near the intersection are not working. "Local people have trouble [with the intersection]," he said. "Out-of-staters have a terrible time."