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Detrimental detour: DOH drives Logan County anger

By Laura Reston

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A plan to repair an 8-mile stretch of W.Va. 10 has left some Logan County residents angry and the West Virginia Division of Highways scrambling to appease them.

Last month, the DOH closed W.Va. 10 between Dabney and Man after contractors found that the hillside had become increasingly unstable, dropping boulders onto the road. The upgrades were slated to continue for 90 days.

Vehicles must now travel between Dabney and Man on a winding 17-mile detour along County Routes 14 and 16. The trip can take half an hour or more. On W.Va. 10, the same trip took about 10 minutes.

Earlier this week, Logan County residents gathered at a community meeting to discuss the detour.

"People were frustrated and angry," said Carrie Bly, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation.

Some attendees complained about the financial burden incurred by the detour, said Bly and Roger Bryant, director of the Logan County Office of Emergency Management. They have to spend more on gasoline as they drive to work along the lengthy detour every morning.

Others' concerns involved safety. Emergency vehicles from Man often travel along W.Va. 10 to reach the Logan Area Medical Center. Now, those vehicles have to spend up to an hour winding along the detour route to get to Logan.

"Obviously, it would be much better if we had a 20-minute drive to the hospital," Bryant said. "Now, it's more difficult because of the time and mileage."

In response to those concerns, Highways officials have revamped their plans for dealing with the road closure.

"After listening to the public's suggestions, it is clear that there is a need for providing a quicker response time for emergency services," the DOH stated in a news release Friday.

Beginning Aug 5, a police vehicle will be stationed at either end of the closed road to improve response times.

Authorities will rely on a medical helicopter to fly people out of the closed area along W.Va. 10. However, if the helicopter can't fly, police will open the road to allow emergency vehicles to pass.

Bizzack Construction LLC will have an additional end-loader at the site to help clear the road, if necessary, according to the DOH. Bly warned, though, that clearing the road could take up to 30 minutes.

Many residents expressed anger that the DOH had not paved or prepared the detour route, Bly said.

In response, construction crews on Aug. 1 started to pave the county routes in the detour. West Virginia Paving plans to work on the routes during low traffic times to avoid extensive delays. They expect delays to be from 5 to 10 minutes.

Construction crews also plan to erect 68 more road signs, to showcase the route, urge drivers to reduce speeds, warn them of curves and give them advance notice of one-lane bridges. They also have begun to install a new guardrail.

Also, the Logan County Sheriff's Department has increased monitoring for speeding cars along the detour route, Bly said.

Reach Laura Reston at laura.reston@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5112.


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