Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV


March 29, 2013

Open for traffic

Patience key during I-77 detour

— — After more than a week of heavy labor, and a spirit of welcomed cooperation and patience from traveling motorists, traffic is finally back to normal along the heavily traveled Interstate 77 corridor. That’s welcomed news for everyone, and particularly those motorists who were forced to detour the interstate near Bluefield in recent days while clean-up of a massive rock slide continued.

The northbound interstate lane was opened to traffic late Wednesday night. It had been closed since March 20 as a result of the rock slide. Tons of boulders and debris had spilled over the lanes between the three and four mile markers north of the East River Mountain Tunnel. Traffic in return had to be detoured onto U.S. Route 460 toward Princeton. The detour resulted in unusual traffic congestion along Route 460 in both Bluefield and Princeton.

But the good news is everything went as well as possibly could be expected. Motorists, and visitors traveling through our region, showed great patience and understanding. Many followed the Daily Telegraph’s own website for daily updates on the I-77 detour. To all of the motorists — including local citizens impacted by the detour and out-of-town visitors — we applaud you for your patience and understanding.

To the crews with the West Virginia Division of Highways, as well as contracted crews who labored from start to finish to remove massive boulders and debris from the interstate corridor, we thank you and we congratulate you on a job well done. It was imperative for the interstate corridor to reopen for traffic prior to today’s Good Friday and this weekend’s Easter Sunday traffic. And the DOH crews met this all-important deadline in helping to ensure a normal resumption of traffic for Easter. We also applaud area law enforcement and emergency response officials for their help with traffic control and detour enforcement over the past several days.

And a special thanks also goes out to Division of Highways District 10 Manager Tommy Camden, who did an exceptional job in relaying regular updates to this newspaper so that we in return could inform our readers — both in print and the thousands more who were following the story concerning the detour on our online website — about the status of the I-77 detour.

Communication during this crisis was key, and DOH officials excelled in helping to keep the public, and the news media, up to date. At the end of the day, almost everything that could have been done to keep motorists, visitors from out of town, and area residents informed of the road closure and the detour was done.

Everyone is to be applauded for their efforts, and their patience, during this difficult week. Closing down a section of a major interstate highway on the week before Easter was a daunting task. But everything went as well as could possibly be expected considering the challenge that highway crews were faced with.

We congratulate all involved in helping to clean-up this massive rock slide. Your work was appreciated. And it goes without saying that we — and the thousands of traveling motorists — are happy to see I-77 open once again just in time for Good Friday and Easter Sunday.


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