Big wrecks: Should interstate detours get traffic cops?

UVA football games, Charlottesville running races, and even the recent Dogwood Festival get the benefit of police officers directing traffic. So why didn't the massive tie-up that snarled Pantops for several hours on Tuesday, April 12?

That's what Tayloe Emery wants to know.

The Virginia man was trying to get to downtown Charlottesville, but his path was blocked by an Interstate 64 wreck that sent a tractor trailer sprawling across both westbound lanes and created a 10-mile-long backup behind mile marker 123.

"There's not a single cop directing traffic," said miffed motorist, reporting two hours spent creeping from the area of Zion Crossroads to the top of Pantops Mountain.

"Don't you think it would be smart," asked Emery, "to have people pushing traffic instead of moving an inch an hour? The cop could be waving people through."

Emery says that as he crept along U.S. 250 east of Free Bridge he called the police departments of both Albemarle and Charlottesville and says he was told that manpower issues prevented officers from supplanting traffic lights.

Virginia Department of Transportation spokesperson Lou Hatter was asked if VDOT has a game plan to deploy traffic directors in the wake of an interstate-snarling crash.

"We do what we can to minimize the impacts," says Hatter, mentioning media releases, illuminated roadside message boards, and the state's website which duly noted this incident.

But as for a more intensive boots-on-the-ground (and hands-in-the-air) program, Hatter said, "I'm not aware of that, but that's a suggestion I'll pass along to the traffic operations group."

According to state releases, the incident began around 7:58am at mile marker 123 when a tire blew out on a Toyota Tundra pickup truck which swerved to its right and struck a nearby tractor-trailer which then jackknifed across both westbound lanes, leading to minor injuries for the truck-driver.
The Toyota's driver, William Agusto, 31, of North Carolina, and his passenger were not injured in the crash; but Agusto was charged with driving without a license and with reckless driving.

The fuel tank on the tractor-trailer reportedly ruptured in the collision, so there was a spill that needed to be cleaned up before the highway could be reopened. One westbound lane was opened around 11:50am, and the other around 12:30pm.


Cops cost money. You can't keep "starving the beast" of government and then demand that government be there to help you as soon as you face some adversity.

Welcome to the 21st century.

Fuel tank ruptured requiring clean-up. Another reason not to build the earthen dam, The height of this dam at Ragged Mt. will create a reservoir that goes under I64. Does anyone think that is a good idea ? If we have a toxic spill into that new reservoir we will have more problems than a traffic tie-up to worry about.

There is no shortage of manpower when cops are off duty and being paid overtime.

I prefer to see as few cops around crashes as possible..... after dark. The blue lights have gotten so bright with modern technology that it causes more problems than it solves. The blue lights are just one step short of totally blinding motorists coming upon a crash site.

This is also why so many cop shoppe cars are being rear ended nationwide. And yet the cop shopped can't figure out why the significant increase in cops shoppe cars getting hit.

Another diesel spill today on 81 near Staunton with hazmat called in --2 toxic spills in our area in one day . How crazy is it to run, what will be our only drinking water supply reservoir, under an interstate ?

from chn29's web-site

"The truck overturned and plunged down a steep embankment in the median. .... Hazmat crews had to clean up spilled diesel fuel. "

The photograph of the traffic above was taken in Singapore. What does a road in Singapore have to do with a traffic jam in Charlottesville? You should, at the very least, get the traffic heading in the American direction when you borrow a photograph.

Use your imagination - traffic is traffic is traffic . One thing we all have in common no matter where we live.

Well, NancyDrew (ND), since I learned to read I have used my imagination. But when it comes to the media, I look for truth in verbiage and images. And when a reporter is too lazy to get a local picture, then I have to question their verbiage. Is this what the local community wants the Hook to use: foreign pictures to represent local news? Now all photographs by the Hook are questionable and not necessarily true reporting. Can you imagine that ND?

I expect this post to get deleted by a lazy reporter....

They had plenty of cops to direct traffic. Take the cops out running radar, writing tickets to soccer moms on the way to ACAC personal training sessions, and going to "swinger" parties on duty and you could have had the whole dayshift of the ACPD available. I see them all the time sitting in parking lots talking to young females. I guess they are giving "crime prevention" tips. Yeah, I am jealous...

or they are at Chipotle

They get half price at Chipolte, can you blame them?? Chipolte gets a bargain 4 cops at all times hanging out whining about how hard they work, their child support, and getting screwed out of a raise again by the county, stuffing their faces, for basically nothing but 60 cents worth of tortilla shell and filling. Better security than any bank I have seen. I guess they are protecting them from "ICE".

I haven't seen a large group of city and county cop shoppe cars at Chipolte's for a long time now. Perhaps the chiefs finally realized how unprofessional it looked to have 4 to 10 cop shoppe cars sitting out front at the same time and put an end to their little mid-shift get-togethers.

Chik-fil-a beside Lowes on Route 29 must be giving out free or half price food now too. Not long ago there were 4 city cop shoppe cars and 4 county cop shoppe cars there all at the same time. It looked like a cop shoppe sub-station. The couple in the booth behind me were discussing how so many cops could meet at the same time and sit in a restaurant for an hour or longer.

I used to only stop at restaurants where I saw truckers and cop cars, cause I knew it was good and cheap. The ones that do half price for cops throw this system off though, because you could serve dog food and cops would eat it if it was half-price. Truckers though always know the best places to eat.

"The fuel tank on the tractor-trailer reportedly ruptured in the collision, so there was a spill that needed to be cleaned up before the highway could be reopened"

Now imagine that it was fuel tanker truck trailer that crashed a few miles west above an expanded Ragged Mtn. Reservoir.

If you don't think there is already fuel contamination in your water supply go to the car wash and watch people changing their oil in the car wash bays, by letting the old oil drain down the grate. I didn't think there was anything wrong with doing it that way, until my neighbor explained to me the whole groundwater system and what not. It kinda made sense. I had no idea where all that stuff I dumped down the storm drain went. Now I save it up, and take it to the Ivy Dump, where they recycle it or something like that.

This is hilarious! Cop must have been late getting to Chipolte's to meet the other guys!

The cop uses hisstate issued tools to deal with the problem. :)

No lie, I was at Chipolte at Barrack's road tonight. There were four ACPD cop cars and four cops there. Makes it hard to justify their argument that they need to hire more cops. People were laughing about all the cop cars in the parking lot. That new chief needs to get him some real sergeant's who can motivate these officers. I can't think of a police department anywhere that would tolerate four officers congregating at the same place. Especially, out of your jurisdiction.

What time of night was it? They must be coming in after the UVA students thin out later in the evening. There's long lines of people waiting to order food once the UVA students start rolling in around 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Sellers is just another pretty face, don't expect any changes at the county cop shoppe.

Some of the comments above have gotton off of the topic of the accident itself. So, as a person waiting in traffic for almost two hours to get to work on that faithful day, here are my thoughts about the accident and the comments in the article:

I quote the article above: Virginia Department of Transportation spokesperson Lou Hatter was asked if VDOT has a game plan to deploy traffic directors in the wake of an interstate-snarling crash. "We do what we can to minimize the impacts," says Hatter, mentioning media releases, illuminated roadside message boards, and the state's website which duly noted this incident.

Excuse me Mr. Hatter but none of the above was of any help to me on that faithful morning. First of all, while getting ready to leave for work, our electricity went out, so the media releases and the state's website is useless with no electricity! I live in Fluvanna County and use I-64 at Keswick/Boyds Tavern and there were no roadside message boards posted, nor are they ever any permanent ones posted, along Route 250 or before you head onto I-64 heading west towards Charlottesville or east back to Fluvanna. The same goes for the Zions Crossroads I-64 exit. After this fiasco, they should consider adding the message boards in these high traffic areas on a permanent basis like they do on I-64 West near the Crozet exchange. If I would have known ahead of time I would have kept going on Route 250 West rather than turning off onto I-64 at Boyds Tavern, which is normally quicker. The only roadside sign I saw on I-64 which was about a half of a mile before the traffic started backing up then I heard about the accident on a local radio station but by then I was stuck in traffic and couldn't turn around. May be VDOT should purchase its own radio station that reports on road conditions in the Charlottesville area, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If the bridge on Route 250 at Shadwell would have been closed, which was originally planned by VDOT but a decision was delayed, in order to replace it, the traffic back ups would have been much worse on I-64, probably backed up past Boyds Tavern and Zions Crossroads exchanges. When an accident of this magnitude happens there aren't many other alternative routes for those that live east of Charlottesville. Route 250 and a couple of back roads which lead to Route 250 is all we have.

Troy Resident, I think it would be much cheaper for the taxpayers if VDOT simply recorded your address and phone number, and then provide you a personal shuttle service in one of their vehicles whenever a nearby road is closed for whatever reason.

I can also suggest you stay out of Charlottesville and Albemarle County if closed roads cause you so much distress. The cop shoppes, fire departments, and rescue squads seem to take pleasure in totally blocking roads or closing roads for hours at accident scenes lately. I can't say I blame them too much, they will get run over if they don't. Why will they get run over you may ask? Because most everybody is in such a hurry to get wherever they are going now. My wife and a dozen other fellow employees of hers were detained in this I-64 closure the other day. They weren't whining and complaining though. They were expressing interest in exactly what happened, and they were hoping nobody had been seriously injured.

The moral of this story.... have some interest in your fellow man and don't concentrate so much on the inconvenience you encountered in getting to work a few minutes late.

Close the donut shops and maybe someone would be available to work traffic.