New traffic lights planned to curb Rt. 33 accidents

BUCKHANNON — Following multiple wrecks—some unfortunately fatal—at the intersections of Childers Run Road and Kesling Mill Road over the last several years, the West Virginia Division of Highways has finally come up with a hopeful solution to these frequent accidents.

After an extensive study, the WVDOH has decided to begin two projects along these significantly dangerous high-speed traffic intersections, bringing much relief to city and county officials, along with Upshur County residents.

The study was prompted by requests from the City of Buckhannon and the Upshur County Commission following two fatal accidents in April and June of 2019 that resulted in the death of three individuals. The city’s Assistant Attorney and former longtime Municipal Court Judge Harry Hymes II, 82, along with Sarah Downes, 65, and Kendra Neal, 27, were all fatally injured following wrecks at the Childers Run Road and Kesling Mill intersections.

However, the county’s efforts on this project date back to 2015, after two young Upshur County students, Cloey Warner and Emily Jozwick, spoke to Commissioners about an accident at the Kesling Mill intersection claimed the life of a fellow classmate’s grandfather and left the grandmother in critical condition. The students’ letter to Commissioners stated, “We are deeply concerned about the number of accidents that have occurred at the Kesling Mill intersection and the tragic deaths that have occurred from those accidents.” They later state in the letter that they would like permission for a petition to be started to get a stoplight installed at this intersection. The county’s letter to the WVDOH back in 2015 explained that a total of 26 accidents had occurred near this intersection, and of the 26, two were fatal.

After several inquiries from County Administrator Carrie Wallace and City of Buckhannon’s Public Works Director Jerry Arnold regarding an update about the Route 33 study, WVDOH District Engineer Brian K. Cooper provided an exciting response via email, informing Wallace that following the study, two projects will soon be underway at these intersections.

Cooper’s email to Wallace stated, “After reviewing the results of the safety study, I am pleased to inform you that the WVDOH has programmed two projects to help improve safety along US 33 in Upshur County. One project includes renovation and upgrading of the traffic signal located at the intersection of US 33 and Brushy Fork Road. The other project will install new traffic signals on US 33 at the intersection of Childers Run Road and also at the intersection of Kesling Mill Road.”

During the County Commission meeting Thursday morning, Commissioner Sam Nolte commented on the update saying, “That is good news. I am glad to see they’re moving forward with that.”

Buckhannon Mayor Robbie Skinner also told The Record Delta, “From the perspective of the City, we’re happy the study is finally complete. Too many lives have been taken, and too many serious injuries have occurred, particularly in accidents at both the Kesling Mill and Childers Run intersections. Hopefully the installation of stop lights will drastically reduce the number of wrecks, injuries and fatalities.”

The engineering and design work for both of these projects are anticipated to be completed late this fall with construction beginning in the spring of 2022, according to Cooper’s email to Wallace.


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