Drivers concerned about emergency crews response time along I-77 - | WBTV Charlotte

Drivers concerned about emergency crews response time along I-77 after crash

(Ben Williamson | WBTV) (Ben Williamson | WBTV)
CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

A major crash shut down all northbound lanes on -I-77 Wednesday morning just north of the I-85 interchange when a semi-truck collided with several trucks, sending them into the concrete barrier.

Some drivers had concerns about first responders' ability to get to the crash site because lanes were blocked and concrete barriers prevented crews from using emergency lanes.

“It gets dangerous because there is no room to get by,” said driver Daniel Cordero. “They are not able to because of an accident or something. They cannot go around it. So, that is a big problem there.”

The Charlotte Fire Department and Medic sent their crews south in the northbound lanes to access the crash site. CFD says their response was not slowed.

However, WBTV spotted several emergency crews stuck in northbound traffic attempting to get to the crash area Wednesday morning.

Several Emergency Responder sources confirm that response time is some times slowed because of construction along I-77. In several cases, crews are not able to get by because of barriers or cones.

“It really is a problem, when emergency crews cannot get to them. It really will be as bad as it stands now,” said Lavonda Hamilton, a driver that uses I-77 daily.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation says crews are still able to get behind barrier walls and gain access to crash sites. In some cases, like Wednesday morning, barriers have to be removed.

“The contractor has specialized equipment they can bring out to remove part of that barrier if needed and that is what happened yesterday,” said Jen Thompson with NCDOT.

The concrete barriers are required for both the safety of the drivers and the construction workers.

I-77 Mobility Partners, the contractors on the project, released the following statement:

The I-77 Express Lanes project and construction teams meet regularly with municipalities along the corridor to review construction activity, discuss ideas and receive feedback. These meetings involve town staff, including representatives from emergency responder agencies. This collaboration has been instrumental as input from responders assisted in the placement of access points for emergency vehicles along the project corridor. In yesterday’s incident, the construction barrier allowed responders to have an open space to safely access the incident.

However, several sources tell WBTV that communication about which access points are available and when, has been poor in some cases.

Other emergency teams say the construction has little impact on their ability to respond and that the construction is just another hurdle they have to work through.

NCDOT says any first response units that are concerned about responding to crashes along the I-77 corridor can contact The Department and additional meetings can be set up. 

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