Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

September 1, 2013

Mercer County intersection sees frequent crashes

By GREG JORDAN
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

BRUSHFORK — Click here to watch the video

In Mercer County, U.S. Route 52 runs south and north, and Route 123 runs west and east. When they meet in Brushfork, they form an intersection that requires some extra caution.

Traffic going north toward Bluewell and south toward Bluefield travels downhill before it reaches the traffic light in Brushfork. Motorists wishing to turn either west or east onto Route 123 often have to wait even if the light is green. There are turn lanes, but no green arrow signals.

During the noon hour on Aug. 28, members of the Bluefield Daily Telegraph staff found a vantage point and watched traffic patterns. Vehicles ranging from tractor-trailers to motor scooters go through the intersection every day. Sometimes as many as eight or more motorists are lined up at the light during the commutes to and from work and lunchtime. The time between red lights and green lights ranged from 15 seconds to approximately 30 seconds.

Motorists frequently ran the yellow lights, hurrying to get through the intersection before the light turned red. Three vehicles went through the red light in a 15-minute time span. In a few instances, drivers allowed fellow motorists waiting in the turn lanes to get onto Route 123 before continuing on Route 52.

Some businesses have vantage points allowing their employees to see the close calls and, on other occasions, the results of a crash. One store, The Alabaster Box Christian Book Store, has windows pointing directly at the intersection.

“To be honest with you, you can count at least one a month at that intersection,” said employee Robert Shanklin. “I’m extra cautious when I get up to it.”

“I saw one a couple of weeks ago,” another employee, Brenda Long, added. “Every time my light changes there, I pause and wait first.”

“I can’t figure out what’s wrong at the intersection,” Shanklin said. “We have a lot of intersections around here, but we seem to have more wrecks there.”

A Brushfork resident, Marie Goforth, 69, said she hears about a crash at the intersection about every six weeks. She had never had a close call there herself.

“We’ve been very fortunate, very fortunate,” Goforth said. “We haven’t been in any (crashes) thank the Lord.”

Manager Jerry Fuhrman of the CVS Pharmacy, stated that he notes wrecks there about every 90 days.

“We’ve seen a lot over the years,” said employee Traci Sexton about the number of crashes.

The Mercer County Sheriff’s Department has periodically stationed deputies at the intersection to watch for speeding and other infractions.

The traffic-engineering department of the state Department of Highways, District 10, recently studied the intersection, Manager Tom Camden said in mid-August.

The engineers did not recommend any changes. Whether drivers obey the posted speed limit and pay attention while traveling are factors in the number of crashes. The speed limit is 45 mph.

— Contact Greg Jordan at gjordan@bdtonline.com