The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

March 22, 2013

Rocky road causes I-77 travel detour

By Bill Archer
For The Register-Herald

BLUEFIELD — Rain, freezing temperatures, and a couple inches of snow didn’t help matters Thursday morning as travelers were detoured around a rock slide in the northbound lanes of I-77 at the 3.5 mile marker. U.S. Route 460 witnessed more than its fair share of vehicles with out-of-state plates traveling the slick roads as Division of Highways crews worked to remove the hazard.

“We’ve called in a private contractor to help us,” Tom Camden, district manager of DOH District 10 said. “Our main concern is that there is a lot of material still up there above the area of the slide and it looks like it’s poised to fall.”

“There’s quite a crevasse up there,” Camden said. “If we don’t take care of it now, we might be back there again soon.” He said that with a slide the size of the one that occurred on Wednesday, it might have been much worse if it had happened during the night. “It’s one of those ones that we were fortunate that no one was injured.”

One DOH crew installed jersey walls around the perimeter of the fall while another surveying crew examined the size of the rock fall. A backhoe worked to build a road up to the crevasse to address the potential of a future slip.

“We realized early that the rock slide was a lot worse than we thought it was,” Camden said. “Eventually, we will try to open at least one lane — the passing lane — of the northbound lanes, but at this moment, we don’t have a time for that yet.

“We know it’s inconvenient, but we’re trying to make it safe,” Camden said. “It’s one of those things that when you have rain and snow with freezing and thawing, having rock falls is a possibility. We were fortunate that no one got hurt.”

— Bill Archer is a writer for The Bluefield Daily Telegraph