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After multi-vehicle accident shuts down I-79, motorists urged to slow down during icy conditions

CHARLESTON, WV – A multi-vehicle accident that shut down northbound Interstate 79 near Elkview on the morning of Thursday, Nov. 17, 2022, should serve as a reminder to motorists to slow down during icy conditions.

“Weather is unpredictable, and it can change rapidly,” said WVDOH District 1 Maintenance Engineer Kathy Rushworth, P.E. “If it’s 34 degrees or lower, be cautious when you’re driving.”

Unexpected snowfall during the night of Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022, and the early morning of Thursday, Nov. 17, 2022, led to bridges freezing in Kanawha and other counties overnight. Rushworth said snow first melted, then refroze, making bridges especially slick.

A multiple-vehicle accident on the northbound I-79 bridge at mile marker 7 shut down the interstate at about 5:30 a.m. Northbound traffic was detoured onto US 119 at the Big Chimney exit until the roadway reopened at 10:45 a.m.

Because they’re surrounded by air both above and below, bridges freeze before roadways do. Although crews were out treating roads in Kanawha and surrounding counties overnight, Rushworth said bridges can be slick even after they’ve been salted. She urged motorists to slow down during icy conditions.

“When it’s cold, pay attention,” Rushworth said. “Put your phone down, monitor your speed and suit it to your conditions.”

Above all, she said, “Be aware of the traffic ahead of you and the conditions that you’re driving in.”

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