Bluefield Daily Telegraph
— People who live and work along U.S. Route 52 between Brushfork and Bluewell are seeing less speeding along the busy highway now that more state troopers and Mercer County Sheriff’s deputies are able to patrol the area and watch for infractions.
Concern about speeding and other traffic infractions was heightened recently when two little girls were killed March 5 in a crash outside the Deliverance Temple in Brushfork. The Mercer County Sheriff’s Department and a crash reconstruction team with the West Virginia State Police are investigating the circumstances of that tragedy.
More funding recently became available for additional patrols along the highway. Grant Safe and Sober 52, a grant program supported by the West Virginia Governor’s Highway Safety program, will allow police officers to work overtime to help patrol U.S. Route 52 in Mercer, McDowell and Wyoming Counties, Highway Safety Region 8 coordinator Dean Capehart said.
Julie Shanklin, 38, of Brushfork said she has seen officers monitoring traffic along Route 52 near the church.
“I saw law enforcement twice there at the bottom of the hill where the water park used to be, and that’s actually the first time I’ve seen them there in my life,” she said Friday. “It’s definitely a step in the right direction.”
Unfortunately, some motorists are exhibiting reckless behavior when law enforcement is not present, she said. In one instance, a driver traveling toward Bluefield entered the wrong lane to get around a line of cars. This occurred after the fatal crash near Deliverance Temple.
“That’s the worst I’ve ever seen,” Shanklin recalled. “I can’t believe somebody from this area knowing what had happened would do that.”
In Bluewell, an employee at one convenience store said she has seen more people being pulled over and ticketed for speeding.
“They pulled one over in the parking lot the other night,” said Rhonda Christian, 43, of Bluewell. “They’re doing a lot better.”
The police presence helps, but some motorists will still exceed the speed limit when they don’t see deputies or troopers, she said.
“I’m going to be honest. When they see the cops, they slow down,” Christian added.
Karen Bailey, manager of the Cargo convenience store, said she has also seen more law enforcement along Bluewell’s section of Route 52.
“I haven’t seen a whole lot yet,” she replied when asked about a difference in the number of speeders. “It will take time.”
The highway will have to get a reputation for being a “speed trap,” she said. “I don’t want a ticket.”
At another store in Brushfork, Charlotte Parson, 67, of Princeton, was seeing more law enforcement activity, too.
“Well, I’ve noticed a lot of police out there. We need them,” she said. “There are a lot of things that happen out here besides speeding.”
“It’s just like a drag strip,” Dottie Wagner, 73, of Falls Mills,Va. “And people don’t look. They’re on their cell phone.”
Parson said the recent tragedy might influence motorists’ attitudes about Route 52.
“Maybe the accident has woken people up. I’ve noticed people slowing down,” she stated.
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