Speed limit could be factor in severity of crashes on Va. 37

Posted: September 6, 2013

The Winchester Star

WINCHESTER — Despite a few recent bad crashes, wrecks on Va. 37 appear to be on the decline.

There were 64 accidents on the roadway last year, with 14 resulting in injuries, according to Deputy Warren Gosnell, traffic supervisor with the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office.

Va. 37 is a western bypass around Winchester. It’s just over nine miles long and has a posted speed limit of 65 mph for most of its length.

This year, there have been 15 crashes with injury on Va. 37, but, breaking it down by month, that represents a decline, Gosnell said.

No crashes have been reported this July or August, he said. Last year, there were three crashes in July and the same number in August.

In 2012, there were five crashes in January, four in February and nine in March. This year, there were three crashes in January, one in February and three in March.

Because there have been a few serious accidents on Va. 37 in recent months, it can seem like there is a growing problem, Gosnell said.

In March, a Clear Brook man was seriously injured after losing control of his truck and crashing near Va.37 and Northwestern Pike (U.S. 50).

Terry Allen Roblee, 39, was driving a rented 2013 Toyota Tacoma north when he drifted off the right side of the road, struck a guardrail and flipped several times down a steep, grassy embankment between Va. 37 and the exit ramp to Amherst Street.

In June, two people were killed on Va. 37 in separate crashes.

The speed limit could be a factor in the extent of injuries and damages in some of the wrecks, Gosnell said.

Most of Va. 37 is 65 mph, but the speed limit drops to 45 mph at the Kernstown interchange and to 40 mph as it approaches the junction with Martinsburg Pike (U.S. 11).

Work to improve the Kernstown interchange where Va. 37 meets I-81 is set to begin in October 2014, with right-of-way acquisition slated to start later this year, according to a previously reported information.

The estimated $48 million Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) project will reconstruct the ramps on I-81 at Exit 310 to widen and spread them outward from their intersection with Va. 37.

The improvements will allow more room for vehicle stacking and turn movements, according to VDOT project manager Scott Alexander. He previously stated that there have been traffic concerns at that interchange for a number of years.

Gosnell was unable to provide data on the exact locations of the crashes on Va. 37.

He said the bigger trend in Frederick County has been the number of fatalities involving drivers not wearing their seat belts.

The victims in the fatalities in June on Va. 37 were not wearing seat belts, according to authorities.

Joshua Robert Armitage, 23, of Winchester, was heading north on Va. 37 on June 28 when his car traveled off the right side of the road and overturned several times, state police reported. He was ejected from the vehicle.

On June 16, LaNell Gay Hockman, 60, of Winchester, died when her vehicle went off the right side of Va. 37 as she headed south and struck a guardrail. The crash occurred about 0.1 mile south of Martinsburg Pike (U.S. 11), authorities reported.

— Contact Melissa Boughton at mboughton@winchesterstar.com