Rock slide blocks I-77 in Mercer County - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

UPDATE: Both lanes of I-77 in Mercer County now open

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MERCER COUNTY -

 

On Wednesday afternoon, 59 News crews didn't see any falling rock or the huge pile of debris that has been seen for 6 days.

That meant the West Virginia Department of Highways was one step closer to seeing both lanes open. Before last Wednesday, the Department of Highways had been closely watching this cliff, and had they not have, the rockslide could have been much more dangerous.

"We had observed rocks falling through the night and that's when we looked closer and that's when we realized there was a crevice up above and that's when she closed the road," said Thomas Camden, DOH district manager.

What stops any cliffs from turning into last week's rockslide and how do you determine which cliffs are more at risk?

"We rely on the public a lot to let us know and our guys are out constantly especially with this type of weather with snow and ice removal we are out day and night. This type of year with the water freezing and thawing, tends to increase the problem," Camden said.

He said depending on the type of rock found in cliffs, that's how the DOH determines the severity of the risk for a slide.

"Limestone is pretty solid, hard rock. Sandstone, less so. And shale tends to come down in pieces. So sometimes its the rock formation and we look for a solid rock face as opposed to fragmented rock."

 

 

 

Engineers with the West Virginia Department of Transportation finished cleaning up the final debris from the rockslide on Interstate 77 near mile marker 3 in the evening hours of Wednesday, March 27. 

The road was reopened to traffic at 7 p.m.

 


UPDATE: 

 

Its been five days since a massive rockslide shut down part of I-77 north.  The latest 59 News is learning, is there's still no relief for detoured drivers yet.

Crews with the West Virginia Division of Highways are working to stabilize the hillside. But snow and ice are delaying progress. Crews will only be working during the daylight hours because night work has been deemed unsafe.

While the DOH does not predict the highway being open before Wednesday, they said every effort is being made to have both northbound lanes reopened to accommodate the Easter holiday traffic.

The full statement reads:

The West Virginia Division of Highways is continuing work to stabilize a hillside along Interstate 77 in Mercer County following a massive rock slide that occurred on Wednesday, March 20.

The northbound lanes of I-77 at Mile Marker 3 near the Bluefield area remain closed as WVDOH crews and contractor, Vecillio & Grogan, Inc., work to clean up the slide. Heavy equipment is being used to push any loose hanging rock down the slope in order to keep more slides from happening. Crews are also hauling rock and debris to a dump site along the highway.

While progress is being made, the wet and wintry conditions are making an already difficult job even harder to complete. Crews will only be working during the daylight hours because night work has been deemed too unsafe. While the WVDOH does not envision the highway being open before Wednesday, every effort is being made to have both northbound lanes of I-77 reopened to accommodate the Easter holiday traffic.

WVDOH crews are continuing to direct traffic along the detour route (US 460), with flaggers at every signaled intersection.

__________________________________________________________________________

An update on the efforts to clear Interstate 77 of a rockslide that has blocked the highway was issued on Sunday, March 24.

Here is the latest from West Virginia Department of Transportation:

The snowy, icy and wet conditions are certainly not helping the clean up effort. Due to the weather, crews will be working during the day only.  Work will stop at dark this evening and resume Monday morning.  It's just too unsafe to work in the dark.  

Some of the rock debris has been removed and hauled away, but crews are still trying to knock down more loose rock.

Both Northbound lanes will remain closed on Monday, March 25.


As of 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 21 the West Virginia Department of Transportation has announced that Interstate 77 northbound lanes will be closed until further notice.

Vecellio & Grogan, Inc. has been contracted to clear the rubble from a rock slide that happened on Wednesday, March 20.  The company is bringing in equipment to push more rock and debris down the slope. 

Permanent repairs to the rock face cannot be completed until the slide has been stabilized.  Concrete barriers were put into the slow lane of the interstate to contain the debris.  Clean up will begin Thursday night as workers picked up the debris and haul it away. 

While the work is being done travelers will be detoured onto Route 460.  They will be routed off the interstate at Exit 1 and can get back on at Exit 9 in Princeton.


The latest 59 News learned is that I-77 Northbound between Princeton and Bluefield at Mile Maker 3 will be closed until the weekend. 

Drivers are still being rerouted onto Route 460 at Exit 1, then traveling toward Princeton to get back onto the interstate at Exit 9.

Expect 15-20 minute delays on Route 460.

Brent Walker with the WV Department of Transportation says safety is the biggest goal while crews continue to work to get at least one lane open by the weekend.

I-77 Southbound lanes will remain open.

Walker also says that crews will work non-stop until at least one lane is open.

Stay with 59 News for the latest. We'll also have updates at Facebook.com/59News.

 


UPDATE:

On Wednesday night, 59 News learned that I-77 Northbound between Princeton and Bluefield would be closed for the rest of the night.  Crews are working to make repairs.

Drivers are still being rerouted onto Route 460 at Exit 1, then traveling toward Princeton to get back onto the interstate at Exit 9.

I-77 Southbound lanes will remain open.

59 News is told that the land in the area is still very unstable and that what's above is a real concern.

WV Department of Transportation District 10 Manager, Tom Camden says the goal is to get one lane open as soon as possible.  But in order for that to happen, all of the land above the ground needs to be removed.

He hopes within the next two days that the entire area will re-open.

Stay with 59 News for the latest.  We'll also have updates at Facebook.com/59News.

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ORIGINAL STORY:

Traffic headed north on Interstate-77 was at a stand still in the early afternoon hours on Wednesday, March 20.

According to the West Virginia Department of Transportation there was a rock slide which blocked the interstate at mile marker three.  There is maintenance equipment on the roadway working to clear the mess.

Drivers are being told to detour onto Route 460 at Exit 1, then travel toward Princeton and get back onto the interstate at Exit 9.