More troopers could patrol I-77

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By Christopher Brooke, Reporter

RICHMOND  — The District 40 Senator has made a budget proposal to the General Assembly about a way to prevent more multi-vehicle pileups from happening on a dangerous stretch of Interstate 77 in Carroll County — add more troopers in the area.

A former Virginia State Police trooper who patrolled roads in the Twin Counties himself, Sen. Bill Carrico (R-Grayson County) has first-hand knowledge of the difficulties of covering the roads in a large rural area with a relatively small number of officers.
So, after first consulting with Virginia State Police First Sgt. Mike Musser in Galax, Carrico proposed a budget amendment to assign 10 more troopers to patrol Interstate 77 in Carroll and Wythe counties, the state senator told The Gazette.
Musser advised the senator that the interstate needs more troopers for safety’s sake, Carrico said.
The plan, if it makes it through the General Assembly budget gauntlet, would attempt to put more troopers out in the vicinity where pile-up after pile-up has occurred over the years.
Detailing additional troopers in the Wythe and Carroll areas could end up calming the interstate traffic, the senator indicated. “Because when you want to slow that traffic down you have to start at Wythe and work back.
“We’re not sure how effective we’re going to be with this one, this time, but we’re going to try it,” Carrico said.
Troopers appreciate Carrico’s efforts to make the interstate and the local highways safer, Musser told The Gazette.
“He is very familiar with the adversity we face in this area, since he served this area prior to his retirement,” the first sergeant said in an email. “Sen. Carrico was with us on several Fancy Gap Mountain incidents and has first-hand knowledge of what we face.”
The troopers in the Twin Counties — 10 in Carroll and five in Grayson, with another individual to be assigned here in February  — have a big area and lots of road miles to cover, he said.
Not all 15 troopers would be on duty at any one time.
Increasing the visibility of patrolling troopers would be a proactive step in decreasing the likelihood of crashes, Musser said.
“You must admit, the normal reaction of anyone on the highway when they see a trooper is to slow down and pay more attention to what they are doing,” the first sergeant said. “If Sen. Carrico’s bill passes the General Assembly, the added manpower will directly affect our ability to provide more of a presence on the highways, and, in particular, the I-77 corridor, which in turn will reduce crashes.”