Carroll County Leaders Battle Safety Concerns on Fancy Gap Mountain


Following this weekends 95-car pile-up on Interstate 77, VDOT is now focusing on ways to improve driving conditions on Fancy Gap Mountain.

State police are still trying to determine what exactly caused the Carroll County accident, but say heavy fog is at least partially to blame.

This isn't the first time a major accident has happened on the interstate. Back in 2010, two people died in a 75-vehicle wreck that spanned from Wythe County to the North Carolina border.

With two major accidents in less than five years, both VDOT and the Carroll County Sheriff's office have made safety on the interstate a top priority.

Airport runway lighting technology is used on Interstate 64 on Afton Mountain. Pat Horner, Sergeant with the Carroll County Sheriff's Office, says he would like to see something similar on Fancy Gap Mountain.

"It's not a cure all," Horner said. "If you're still going to run 70 miles an hour on the road, you're going to have a problem, but it gives you some idea of where you're at on the road."

In 2007, incandescent lights were installed there. They were replaced by LED lights two years later because they have a longer life span and cost less to maintain. The upgrade was about $1.3 million and it costs just shy of $123,000 a year to maintain. We spoke to some who frequently travel through the fog in Fancy Gap to get their thoughts.

"When that fog is bad, man, you have to go about 15 to 20 miles per hour and hope nobody runs into you," said Andy Reeves, a truck driver.

"I think lights would help, but also the drivers would have to slow down," said Mark Pluvell.

VDOT spokesman Jason Bond says they have already spent about $5 million putting up solar-powered signs to warn drivers about inclement weather. They have also installed additional safety measures like more signs and rumble strips. Bond says VDOT is currently laying the groundwork to put power on the mountain. The plan is to use LED lighting to flash a speed limit that can change with the weather, but some feel more is needed.

"The speed limit signs are a start," Horner said. "Afton Mountain has some lighting. I think Fancy Gap Mountain needs the same lighting and that may help. It's not going to solve every problem, but you have to do something. I mean, how many events are you going to have like this before you decide enough is enough?"

VDOT says the money to power Fancy Gap Mountain where Sunday's pile-up took place has not been set aside yet. Bond says it is in the hands of people living in Carroll County to lobby leaders to secure funding for the project.

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