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Crews removing massive rocks from W.Va. 3

SUNDIAL, W.Va. -- A section of W.Va. 3 in Raleigh County is expected to remain closed for at least 10 days while crews remove three large boulders that fell onto the road from a hillside, a Department of Transportation spokeswoman said Monday.

The road near Sundial has been closed since the boulders and debris fell on Friday. Crews began blasting the boulders with explosives on Sunday.

"This process is quite difficult due to the location of the road, which is sandwiched between a hillside and the Coal River. Measures must be taken to limit the amount of debris that enters the water," DOT spokeswoman Carrie Bly said in a news release.

The Division of Highways has hired Beckley-based Vecellio & Grogran to oversee the project. Beckley Drilling and Blasting was subcontracted to coordinate the blasting work.

"We're going to blast it and haul it out of here," Alan Reed, a Division of Highways assistant district engineer, told The Register-Herald. "That's the first step."

Work to stabilize the hillside will begin after the road is cleared, Bly said.

Jimmy Wriston, senior engineering adviser for state Transportation Secretary Paul Mattox, said he and Reed will consult with DOH geotechnical engineers to determine how to stabilize the hillside.

"We're looking at what we're going to do about preventing this from occurring again," Wriston told the newspaper.

Donna Hayes, who lives near the site of the rockslide, said she heard a boom on Friday while watching television.

"I had family and friends that had just driven underneath [the rock] before the fall," Hayes told the newspaper. "It's very scary."

She said she and her sister-in-law had raised concerns to the DOH after a previous slide.

"We told them two years ago to fix that [rock], and they didn't," Hayes told the newspaper.

Johnny Boggess, of Naoma, said Friday's rockslide is the worst he has seen on the road.

"I've watched those rocks for years and wondered what kept them up there," Boggess said. "Especially that one. That was a monster. I wasn't surprised at all it came down."


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