Drivers sound off on Mercer County rockslide highway nightmare - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Drivers sound off on Mercer County rockslide highway nightmare

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MERCER COUNTY -

A highway nightmare in Mercer County, it is round 2 after an alarming rockslide causes major traffic delays.

It all happened on northbound lanes of Interstate 77 at Mile Marker 3 in the Bluefield.

Crews were hard at work one day after the rockslide to return the highway back to normal. Heavy equipment was brought in to try and stabilize the land.  Officials with the Department of Transportation said it may be awhile before the highway is even open with a single lane.

Drivers are being detoured on route 460 in through the city of Princeton.

Our 59 News Crews rode along the detour and found out drivers are going about 10 minutes out of their way.  Depending on traffic it will tack on an extra 20 to 30 minutes to get back on 77 north.

Our crews stopped by a local gas station in Green Valley to catch up with drivers filling up to head north.

"Oh! it is going to put us behind schedule a good probably half hour to an hour," Jeff Palmer of Pittsburgh said.

Palmer and his family are hauling their motorcycles north from Florida.  They were enjoying the warmer weather with their bikes and were surprised by the snow falling in the mountain state and the detour.

Another family of 4 is traveling from North Carolina to their home in Indiana. "I've seen some falling rocks on the way, I kept telling her there's another falling rock there's another one and she said yeah you are scaring me," Jimmy McMillam, of Indiana said.

McMilliam said his family is just taking their time and going slow.  He said the aren't in a rush to make it home but are not thrilled to hit the detour and bad weather.

In a press release issued by the West Virginia Department of Transportation it said:

The Northbound lanes of Interstate 77 at Mile Marker 3 in the Bluefield area will remain CLOSED until further notice

The contractor, Vecellio & Grogan, Inc. , is continuing  to bring equipment to the site of the slide and will be working through the night.  Workers will use the heavy equipment to push more rock and debris down the slope. 

The rock slide must be stabilized before any permanent corrections can be made. Concrete barriers have been placed in the slow lane of I-77 to contain the debris.  Later tonight, workers will also begin to clean up some of the debris and haul it away.

Travelers will continue to be routed to the Detour at Exit 1 to US 460 and then can reenter the Interstate in Princeton at Exit 9," Carrie Bly, Communications Specialist, West Virginia Department of Transportation.

It may be awhile before drivers can expert 77 northbound to get back to normal. Stick with 59 News both online and on the air for updated information.