West Virginia police say that they have written hundreds of citations to truck drivers who have ignored the detour on I-77 near the Virginia/West Virginia border.
Due to a construction project taking place on I-77 between Bluefield and Princeton, trucks are required to detour off of northbound I-77 at exit 1, then onto U.S. 460 to get back onto I-77 at exit 9 in Princeton. This detour is slated to remain in place through late June, with all northbound lanes scheduled to reopen for the 4th of July holiday. Traffic on southbound I-77 is not affected by this detour. Extensive traffic backups have been reported as a result of the road closure.
Though the detour is clearly marked with several signs, authorities say that a huge number of truck drivers are failing to take the required detour. Between May 21 and June 4, police wrote 1,066 tickets to truck drivers for illegally traveling through a construction zone.
Chief Deputy Capt. Joe Parks of the Mercer County Sheriff’s Department says that his officers are ticketing more than one trucker for every hour: “We turned in 221 hours this past week, and I think the tickets were 230 that week.”
West Virginia State Police are also patrolling the detour area heavily and issuing numerous tickets.
Both local and state police report that many truckers claim that they didn’t see the sign or that they didn’t understand the detour.
The large number of tickets aren’t just a pain for the truck drivers; local government officials say that they have had hundreds of calls from drivers trying to fight the tickets. Deputy Clerk Karmin Richmond admitted, “We’re slammed with them. And there are so many that are pleading not guilty to them, so our court dockets are going to be packed.”
When construction is finished in the northbound lanes of I-77, workers will begin repairs on the southbound lanes of the interstate. All work on I-77 is expected to be finished by November 2018.