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Putnam residents concerned about US 35 intersection

By Kara Moore

WINFIELD -- A serious tractor-trailer wreck on U.S. 35 earlier this month was worrisome enough increase attendance at Putnam County's monthly meeting with the state department of transportation.

Commissioner Andy Skidmore reported to the commission Tuesday morning that about 70 residents attended an 8:30 a.m. meeting on May 20 with a state maintenance official to voice concerns about the dangerous intersection where the wreck occurred. Several members of the county's state delegation also came.

The transportation meetings are typically held on the last Monday of the month in the commission chambers. Because of the larger-than-usual turnout, May's meeting moved down the hall to the old courtroom.

The wreck occurred where the new four-lane section of U.S. 35 ends and traffic is funneled onto the old two-lane on a downhill slope followed by a sharp curve at the foot of the Buffalo Bridge.

The road was closed for several hours, creating significant delays for both local traffic and drivers passing through the area on the way to or from Ohio.

Public input from the meeting resulted in two efforts toward ameliorating future wrecks.

The lights on the Buffalo Bridge were reportedly burned out and have since been replaced to improve visibility for drivers, and local road crews now have better detour signs to redirect traffic efficiently in case of another major shutdown, Skidmore said.

A separate meeting was held at Rock Branch Elementary School later that day to advise citizens of a preliminary plan to widen Interstate 64 at the Nitro Bridge.

The state hasn't yet funded that project, but it would complete an effort to make the freeway six lanes continuously from Putnam County's bedroom communities to Charleston.

The commission had a light agenda at its regular meeting Tuesday morning.

Commissioners voted not to close sections of Poplar and Elm streets per a resident's petition in unincorporated areas of Hurricane after hearing testimony from neighbors two weeks ago and visiting the site last week.

The road segments in question are not paved or in use, but adjacent property owners felt that officially closing the roads would affect their property value and accessibility.

The Putnam County Commission meets at 9 a.m. the second and fourth Tuesday of each month at the county courthouse in Winfield. All meetings are open to the public.

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