Emergency blasting planned for Friday on I-77 - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Blasting scheduled on I-77 in Mercer County for Friday morning

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This is the a picture of the rockslide from when the rockslide first happened in March This is the a picture of the rockslide from when the rockslide first happened in March

The West Virginia Division of Highways will be closing a section of Interstate 77 in Mercer County to allow for controlled blasting of a slipping hillside.

The slow lane in the northbound side of the interstate between mile post 3 and 3.5 has been closed to traffic since Dec. 2.  The WVDOT made the decision to shut down the lane because the hillside is unstable. After consulting with a contractor, the WVDOH has decided to bring down the hillside with explosives to resolve the problem.

On Friday, Dec. 13, Interstate 77 will be closed to traffic sometime between 10 a.m. and 12 p.m.  The closure will extend from mile marker 1 at the Bluefield exit to mile marker 9 at the Princeton exit.  A section of WV Route 112 that runs parallel to the interstate will also be closed.

WVDOH crews and the contractor will work to reopen the southbound lanes within 30 minutes of the blast, once debris is removed from the roadway. The northbound lanes will remain closed the remainder of the day to allow for additional work by the contractor. Officials with the WVDOT said that they hope to have the northbound fast lane open by dusk. The slow lane will remain closed indefinitely to allow for additional debris removal.

Northbound traffic will be detoured onto US 52 at Exit 1, then onto US 460 East, and back on to I-77 north in Princeton at Exit 9. Flaggers will be placed along US 460 in Princeton to assist in the movement of traffic. Drivers should anticipate an extra 30 to 45 minutes of travel.  Local traffic is advised to use alternative routes during the closure