Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

March 28, 2013

I-77 reopens to travel

BLUEFIELD — Click here for video

Highway crews and contractors who have labored for a week to clear a major rock slide off the northbound lanes of Interstate 77 saw success Wednesday evening when those lanes were finally reopened to traffic.

Tons of boulders and debris spilled March 20 over the lanes between the three and four mile markers north of the East River Mountain Tunnel. Traffic was rerouted at Exit 1 to U.S. Route 460. Travelers then took that highway to Princeton where they could resume their northward journeys on I-77.

The division of highways crews had hoped to have the highway reopened in time for Easter weekend, but this estimate was moved up Wednesday after a senior engineer inspected the hillside, said Tom Camden, district manager for the Division of Highways. Plans initially called for opening that section of the highway to traffic at 7 p.m. However, crews were able to get motorists on their way by 6:45 p.m.

The shoulder of the highway along the rock slide’s area was closed and blocked by a barricade.

“That’s in case any more rocks fall, to prevent them from coming into the road,” Camden said.

Crews have also been cleaning away soil that came down with the stone. Camden thanked local fire departments for bringing their fire engines to the site and hosing mud off the pavement.

Boulders the size of cars and refrigerators blocked the highway after the rock slide occurred. The division of highways still did not know exactly how much stone and debris slid down the hillside. Engineers still did not have any totals Wednesday.

“We’re still in the process of calculating the cost and the amount of material that has been removed,” Camden said.

The goal was to remove as much loose material as possible from the hillside.

“We ran into a lot of shale that tends to fracture, and we ran into a lot of clay,” he said.

Camden stated that in his experience, the I-77 rock slide is the largest he has encountered. Highway crews are constantly watching for potential slides.

“We can credit our night crew and our interstate crew for identifying this problem and taking immediate action,” Camden said. “One of the things that triggered this one in terms of discovering it is that they kept finding rocks in the road. They make regular patrols up and down the road, especially this time of year, watching for anything that could create a hazard.”

Objects ranging from dead deer to junk are found regularly. Crews sometimes find luggage that fell off cars or trucks. Theses obstacles can be dangerous if a vehicle going 70 mph hits them. Even bags of trash that might not otherwise damage a vehicle can be hazardous because motorists will try to dodge them.

Text Only
Local News
  • Practice scenario nearly identical to real-life tunnel fire

    July 27, 2014

  • Crash... Two transported from Route 460 wreck

    Two people were transported to a Mercer County hospital following a two-vehicle wreck Sunday afternoon on U.S. Route 460 at the intersection with Willowbrook Road.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo


    July 27, 2014

  • Active warrants in Tazewell County July 27 Active warrants in Tazewell County July 27

    The Tazewell County Sheriff’s Office is currently seeking the following individuals. Anyone with information concerning the whereabouts of these individuals can call the sheriff’s office at 276-988-1167 or the Tazewell County 911 Center at  276-988-0902.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • DSC_4822.jpg All tunnel lanes open

    Traffic on Interstate 77 was still backed up about 14 miles in Bland County, Va., Saturday evening, but the Virginia Department of Transportation reported at about 6 p.m. that both northbound lanes of I-77 through East River Mountain were open to traffic.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo 2 Slideshows

  • First on scene... Firefighters’ story: Working together put the fire out

    Lights in the southern end of the tunnel illuminate an odd design beside the catwalk near the left lane of the northbound tube of the East River Mountain Tunnel that transports I-77 from Virginia into West Virginia. Two firefighters who made the initial assault through the total darkness of the soot and smoke-filled tunnel left those marks as they slid their arms along the catwalk wall on their journey back to the light.

    July 27, 2014 2 Photos

  • Magnificent collection... A collection worth a billion words

    From the time that Carl Boyd arrived on the Bluefield State College campus in 1953, Boyd, a Bluefield, Va., native, graduate of Tazewell County High School and proud 1957 BSC graduate, was collecting photos, information and artifacts of significance to BSC’s history.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Fans flock to Saints training camp for smiles, autographs

    Lois and Jeff Price have something else to brag about.

    July 27, 2014

  • Habitat for Humanity needs volunteers

    When Peter, Paul and Mary sang the popular Pete Seeger song, “If I had a hammer,” John White of the Tazewell County Habitat for Humanity program would know how to put that hammer to good use to help the organization in its efforts to bring affordable housing to local families.

    July 27, 2014

  • Bluefield farmers market Bountiful harvest: Farmers’ Market offers fun-filled day

    With the sun smiling down on local gardeners, the popular Bluefield, Va., Farmers’ Market was swinging into the season with produce galore, plenty of activities and the well-played bluegrass and old time songs of Crawdad Creek filling the market venue to overflowing.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

National and World
Newspaper Deivery Routes Available
Sister Newspapers' News
Local News Videos