UPDATE: Crews break up boulder that fell on I-79 - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

UPDATE: Crews break up boulder that fell on I-79

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This morning there was a close call for anyone driving where I-79 meets I-77 when a huge rock planted itself in the middle of one southbound lane on I-79.

WV Division of Highways crews on scene monitored the hillside for possible movement throughout the afternoon.  Other rocks that were considered threats were removed in hopes to avoid another rockslide in the future.

R.J. Scites is a maintenance engineer with DOH.  He explains that rockslides occur as a result of the freezing and thawing cycles, similar to the way potholes form. 

A huge boulder crash landed in a southbound lane on I-79 this morning.  First, crews move it away from traffic and then demolition begins.  Scites explains that an excavator with a hammer was used to bust up the boulder.

One lane of traffic was closed until the rock could be pushed aside in preparation for crews to break it apart, but traffic still ran smoothly.  At the same time workers were watchful that history wouldn't repeat itself.  Rocks deemed as possible threats for future rockslides were removed.

Luckily no one was injured during this rockslide.  Scites says rockslides are just really unpredictable.  He advises drivers be aware at all times, especially in areas known to have rockslides.  He says another slide happened in this same area just a few months ago.

Scites expects this year in particular to be a bad year for rockslides.  He says with the subzero temperatures that we've had, we are going to see a lot of winter damage between mudslides, rock falls, and potholes.  He adds that right now is just the tip of the iceberg.


The West Virginia Division of Highways responded to a rockslide on I-79 near mile marker 1 at about 11 a.m. this morning.

According to officials on scene, a boulder about the size of a jeep fell from a ledge and landed in the south bound lanes.

Work crews removed the boulder and are monitoring the ledge it fell from.  They may need to remove another boulder.