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St. Albans bridge intersection sees fewer crashes

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Police have seen fewer crashes at a dangerous intersection in St. Albans now that the Dick Henderson Bridge connecting the town to Nitro has closed for construction.

In fact, there has been only one crash at the intersection of U.S. 60 and Third Street from Jan. 1 until April 30, said Capt. James Agee of the St. Albans Police Department.

In the same period last year, there were 17 crashes in the intersection and on the bridge. There were 39 crashes at that location for the whole year, he said.

The Henderson Bridge closed in January when construction crews began dismantling the 79-year-old span, forcing commuters to take alternate routes between the cities.

"I think when you reduce cross streets, it's going to make a difference," Agee said. "Instead of being a four-way intersection, it's a three-way intersection."

Agee said there have been 40 fewer crashes in the city this year compared to last year. He said in years past, the city has seen 90 to 100 or more crashes in the first five months of the year. Only 65 crashes have occurred in the city so far this year.

The captain said the area saw a milder winter than usual and had maybe only four or five days with weather that could have delayed traffic.

The city also has hired more police officers, and police have increased their visibility. Agee said the number of traffic stops has increased over the last few months.

But he thinks the answer is simple. No bridge, fewer vehicles in town.

"I think there are fewer vehicles in town because of it," Agee said of the bridge closure. "Fewer vehicles mean fewer crashes."

Agee said typically, when a vehicle crash is reported, multiple officers respond, and if injuries are reported, fire and medics respond as well.

Crashes at that intersection are usually more serious. A crash in the middle of the intersection would often see three or more officers responding and at least two fire trucks and an ambulance.

Incidents like that could take more than an hour to clean up, he said.

A lower number of crashes has freed up officers to focus more on patrol and other duties, a good thing for residents, the captain said.

He suspects the low number of crashes will likely be short lived. The bridge is scheduled to reopen in November.

Agee said he hoped for better turning lanes at the foot of the bridge, which would mean better traffic management.

Contact writer Ashley B. Craig at ashley.craig@dailymail.com or 304-348-4850.

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