West Virginia Route 63 is one of many state-mandated roads where its conditions are extremely dangerous for various reasons, especially when bad weather strikes. Division of Highways District 10 Engineer Steve Cole said consistent rainfall and saturated ground are a recipe for disastrous landslides.
“It seems now that most of the weather we get is pretty extreme,” Cole said. “It does impact our roadways, our drainage ditches. It’s something we continually fight.”
About a half-mile west of Ronceverte, an approximate 30-yard stretch of West Virginia 63 is currently shut down to one lane with alternating traffic. Cole said around late March, a landslide from rain cracked and separated the concrete. But these slides and road maintenance to combat them are surprisingly common.
“We schedule those projects,” Cole said. “But unfortunately, we basically have emergency slides that will pop up in various locations, specifically the one on West Virginia 63.”
On a tape measurer, one of the deepest cracks in this particular stretch read at around 19 inches.
“We’re going to go through the process of subsurface expiration, find out what kind of soils we have, how deep the slide is, and size that piling accordingly,” Cole said.
When accounting for allocating funds and hiring a contractor, Cole said the best case scenario for this stretch of road to be completely fixed and reopened is two months.
“It is something that we do regularly,” Cole said. “We have slide programs every year… It’s kind of the norm for us. It just takes a little bit of time.”
Cole said the maintenance on this stretch of West Virginia 63 will cost at least $200,000, a high amount for a landslide of this size.