County looking at Beverly traffic issues

ELKINS — Randolph County Office of Emergency Management Director Cindy Hart will act as a liaison between the Randolph County Commission and the Randolph County Development Authority, as well as other agencies, after concerns were brought up regarding traffic safety in the Beverly area.

During Thursday’s county commission meeting, RCDA Executive Director Robbie Morris asked for support from commissioners on issues including GPS systems leading tractor trailers — on their way to factories and businesses in the area — onto Files Creek Road, which is not equipped to handle that type of traffic.

“I’m here to ask for formal support from the commission and any entity under Randolph County government that can assist with some traffic issues that are popping up in Beverly and have been for a little while,” he said. “A big one is semi-tractor trailers, but even smaller trucks, that are attempting to go to several Randolph County businesses, industries and plants in the valley. As they are coming from Elkins to Beverly and beyond, their GPS system is getting them turned onto Files Creek Road. As you can imagine through the S-turns there at the post office, getting a 50- or 60-foot long tractor trailer through those S-turns or out of those S-turns is very difficult to do.”

Morris explained getting the trucks freed can be very time-consuming and extensive.

“The process to get them back out of there and going in the right direction is extensive. It is not good for the citizens of Beverly who use that road, it is not good for industry because the goods they are trying to receive or trying to ship out end up getting delayed,” Morris said. “In a major manufacturing process, those delays cause a backup and a domino effect of problems. And, it’s not good for the truck drivers or trucking companies, to be quite honest, because then they end up delayed and time, money and safety are a big issue.”

He added he believes the issue could be resolved once the 911 addressing and mapping project is completed but also suggested the county attempt to work with the GPS companies in plotting a more efficient route to the businesses.

Beverly Mayor Cindy Karelis also shared traffic safety concerns during an interview with The Inter-Mountain Friday – including many of the same as those shared by Morris.

In addition to agreeing that trucks getting stuck on Files Creek is an issue, she said her main concern is trucks coming to a “dead-stop” directly after a blind turn while they are attempting to go to Collins Tools Company, located on Crawford Street in Beverly.

“That Logan curve is the heart of our problems because speeding is allowing cars and tractor trailer traffic to move too fast through the town. People are coming into that curve and, lo and behold, there is a tractor trailer truck turning left onto Crawford Street,” she said. “Also, semi’s are also do si do’ing. They jam up in that curve. One semi will have to come to a dead stop on a national highway to allow another semi to clear that curve,” she said.

She added she discovered a Department of Highways document from 2005 that discussed widening the turn; however, it has never been completed.

“I found a 2005 letter where DOH says ‘Dear sirs, we are moving the Logan House and widening the curve.’ 12 years later and it’s still not done. Nobody knows why,” she said.

During the commission meeting, Morris noted he believes the town of Beverly is working with the DOH to try to straighten or widen the turn.

“It has been reported that sometimes two semi’s get in that turn, it can get a little hairy and it can cause a backup with traffic,” he said.

Morris said that with Armstrong Flooring set to expand in the near future, the idea has been kicked around about putting flashing signs at the entrances of the facility to warn drivers of increased traffic coming to and from the facility.

“As Armstrong is set to expand and industry continues to grow in the valley, truck traffic, especially with what we are doing on the Armstrong expansion project, will increase,” Morris said. “There’s been meetings between Armstrong officials, DOH, my office and so forth about looking at reduced speed and flashing lights at plant entrances. When you have shift changes you are looking, at any one time, at 300 vehicles coming in when they arrive, 300 going out and doing that two or three times a day. It’s just a lot of traffic.”

Karelis said the shift changes also affect school release times, noting that at least one teacher has said it takes her up to 45 minutes to leave the school due to traffic.

“The shift change does interfere with the letting out of local schools – Curlie Ray’s Tygart Valley Christian Academy and Beverly Elementary,” she said. “Those three things hit at the same time, within 45 minutes of each other.”

Other ideas mentioned at the meeting included placing signs near the entrance of Beverly explaining to truck drivers that most businesses are “straight ahead” on U.S. 250, placing signs on Files Creek Road explaining it is not suitable for large trucks and reducing speed limits.

Prior to the commission unanimously approving the appointment of Hart as liaison, Randolph County Commission President Mike Taylor explained why Morris brought his traffic safety concerns before the commission.

“I know we have had some discussions already. (Hart) and I have met and talked with some of the officials from Armstrong and we got the address straightened out,” Taylor said. “Some of you may ask ‘Why is he here before the county commission?’ Well, one of the duties of the county commission is to help protect the life, property and safety of the citizens of Randolph County and, with that said, I think we have an obligation to the folks, not only in Beverly, but up U.S. 250, to try to work together with the town of Beverly, with the development authority, with the county commission, to try to come to a reasonable solution to this problem.”

In other business:

∫ Following a short executive session in which no action was reported to have been taken, the Randolph County Commission unanimously approved a proposal, in an amount not to exceed $3.8 million, from Citizens Bank of West Virginia for the new 911 Center project.

∫ Commissioners unanimously approved a 30-day extension for the Lombardi Company, of Follansbee, to start renovations to the 911 Center.

The next Randolph County Commission meeting is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. on Feb. 1 at the James F. Cain Courthouse Annex.