The crash that closed a portion of Interstate 66 for four hours Wednesday in Centreville, Virginia, happened along a stretch where wrecks seem to be a regular occurrence, and a transportation official told WTOP it’s a problem they’re aware of and are working to rectify.
“A current effort underway involves installing highly visible and durable thermoplastic pavement markings in both directions of the I-66 corridor. This work is scheduled to be completed in October,” Michelle T. Holland of the Virginia Department of Transportation said in an email.
Holland acknowledged that historically, higher crash rates in segments of I-66 near the Virginia Route 28 interchange have continued during the “Outside the Beltway Express Lanes Project.”
“The effects of weaving, speed and inattentiveness are on recurring display between the jersey walls,” said WTOP traffic reporter Dave Dildine. “In the WTOP Traffic Center, our numbers show this is one of the most crash-prone stretches of highway across our region.”
The latest crash on I-66 caused structural damage to an overhead ATMS gantry above the eastbound lanes past VA-28. Eastbound at VA-234, the left lane gets by an overturned tractor trailer. Beyond, an eastbound diversion planned within 45 minutes at US-29 in Centreville. pic.twitter.com/6GKb3OB93l
— Dave Dildine (@DildineWTOP) September 18, 2019
Much of the stretch where construction is underway has no breakdown lane and is lined by concrete jersey walls.
Other safety measures in the area, Holland said, include:
- New signs to alert drivers about emergency pulloff area locations.
- New signs instructing drivers to move crashes out of traffic if no one is hurt.
- A new state law that prohibits the use of hand-held cellphones in work zones.
“You expect crash counts to be higher in long-term work zones, but with a long history of wrecks here, if anywhere, this is where work zone awareness is paramount,” Dildine said.
As the construction project moves ahead, there are traffic pattern changes planned for Route 28. Holland said the project team is evaluating ways to improve traffic flow on Route 28 and I-66 to reduce congestion and to try to enhance safety.
Dildine’s advice for drivers: “No distractions, no speeding, eyes on the road and watching out for others who aren’t so aware.”
WTOP’s Megan Cloherty contributed to this report.