Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

August 16, 2013

Highway infractions — U.S. Route 52 crackdown necessary


Bluefield Daily Telegraph

— Motorists traveling U.S. Route 52 in recent days have noticed an increased law enforcement presence. And that’s a good thing considering the number of accidents on Route 52, and just how dangerous this particular primary highway can be.

As those who travel Route 52 on a daily basis already know, this winding mountainous roadway can be difficult to traverse even in good weather, and the commute is further complicated during periods of rain or snow. But despite these challenges there are those motorists who will often speed, run red lights, talk and text while driving and pass on double lines along Route 52.

In an effort to address these and other traffic violations along the heavily traveled corridor, the Mercer County Sheriff’s Department is stationing extra deputies along the county’s span of Route 52. The initiative is being made possible by a federal grant awarded to the sheriff’s office to help cover overtime, according to Lt. Joe Parks.

The grant funding includes the Route 52 Safe and Sober program, a campaign aimed at locating and apprehending drunk drivers; Target Red Light, a program aimed at ensuring motorists obey traffic lights; as well as the Click It or Ticket campaign, which details the enforcement of seat belt usage.

The program covers overtime pay for deputies conducting unlimited DUI patrols on Route 52, Parks said. It also allows deputies to patrol hazardous areas like the intersection of Route 52 and Route 123 in Brushfork near the Airport Square Shopping Center.

The Brushfork intersection has been the site of multiple motor-vehicle accidents in recent months. And many of these crashes are caused by drivers failing to yield the right of way or running a red light. That’s why it has been good to see a sheriff’s department cruiser stationed in the area in recent days.

Motorists who travel the roadway on a daily basis point to the fact that there is no green arrow at the red-light intersection — either southbound or northbound. As a result, motorists traveling either southbound or northbound, and attempting to either turn left or right, must wait for an opening in oncoming traffic on a green light before they can turn either toward Airport Road and Route 123 or to the Brushfork-Falls Mills Road leading to the Virginia state line. Unfortunately, if a motorist becomes inpatient, he or she will often attempt to turn on a green light into the path of oncoming traffic — thus causing a serious accident.

The increased police presence at this intersection, and other parts of Route 52, will, with hope, encourage motorists to slow down and drive in a safer fashion. Route 52 is a very dangerous highway. Some have dubbed this archaic corridor “the highway that time forgot.”

But until the future King Coal Highway, Interstate 73/74/75 corridor can be completed, Route 52 remains the primary artery between Mercer and McDowell counties. We should all slow down and exercise safe driving techniques while traveling along this busy mountainous corridor.