By MELINDA DILLON
Times West Virginian
FAIRMONT, W.Va. — The future of U.S. 250 is still uncertain as the potential for rock slides and other hazards still remain.
A section of U.S. 250 between Muriale’s Italian Kitchen and Wood’s Boathouse & Powersports has been repeatedly closed due to rock slides and other debris in the roadway.
This section of the road was first closed Dec. 22, 2016, due to a rock slide. A temporary traffic signal and a barrier were put up and traffic was down to one lane until the road was reopened fully on Dec. 27.
Another rock slide occurred Jan. 3 and the road was closed again. The road was scheduled to reopen Jan. 6, but it remained closed after the the West Virginia Department of Transportation Division of Highways (WVDOH) Geotechnical Unit found unstable rock and large trees above U.S. 250 were likely to slide into the road.
U.S. 250 reopened on Jan. 17. It remained open for less than 10 days and was closed again on Jan. 26. The road was closed after a tree fell onto a pick-up truck. There were no injuries from this incident.
The road remained closed for a couple of days and then reopened, according to the Marion County 911 Center.
The WVDOH is working on a project for the issues on this section of U.S. 250.
District Four of the WVDOH recently submitted an estimate for a U.S. 250 project to the central office in Charleston for its review, District Four Manager Ray Urse said.
No other details about the project have been provided by the WVDOH at this time.
The labor and equipment costs associated with the recent work the WVDOH has done on U.S. 250 are included in the fixed costs in the district’s annual maintenance budget. There are no materials costs associated with the recent work on U.S. 250. The WVDOH did have to rent a long boom excavator at a cost of $2,800 during work on the road, Urse said.
When the right-of-way maintained by the WVDOH is being affected by an obstruction from private property, it sends a registered letter to property owners with notification.
“We ask the property owner to resolve the issue and offer an opportunity to discuss (the issue) with the department,” Urse said. “We were able to obtain assistance from the property owner of the Grant Coal property. We appreciate the owners’ willingness to help in removing the unstable material on his property.”
Urse previously told the Times West Virginian that the material coming down to the road during the rock slides is from three different property owners.
No other property owners have contacted the WVDOH about U.S. 250, he said.
The WVDOH has an obligation to remove debris that obstructs the ditch line or roadway. Crews do not go on private property nor are they permitted to work off the right-of-way, Urse said.
Slides are common in West Virginia because of the state’s soil types, terrain and the number of freeze/thaw days the state experiences, he said.
“Where there are steep slopes that abut our roads, there will always be the potential for slides both above and below the road,” Urse said. “Most slides occur on slip planes between rock and soil and are exacerbated by soil type, subsurface water, rain and the freeze/thaw cycle.”
West Virginia has an abundance of all these factors and also has steep terrain, he said.
County maintenance organizations record and monitor all slides within their area of jurisdiction and then prioritize them at the district office. The slides then become projects based on available funding, he said.
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