Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

August 31, 2010

Pounding pavement?

Residents awaiting repairs for road ruts, potholes

PRINCETON — With the end of the construction and paving season coming to a close, residents in some Mercer County communities are wondering what is being done to fix the condition of their roads.

Many residents said damages left from floods and snowfall over the past year still have not been addressed while the DOH argues that due to budgeting problems and the overextended workers, they are trying to address road concerns as quickly as they can.

Residents of Route 112 have been waiting on their road to be repaired after much of it was washed away during the March floods.

Rose Lasker, 67, lives at corner of Route 112 and Peggy Branch Road and has seen the damage left behind by the flooding.

“There’s a huge slip near Route 112 between Ada Road where I-77 goes over the big hill that is partly washed out,” Lasker said. “It gets bigger and bigger with more road headed down the hill. They are advertising for bids to fix.”

Lasker said some repairs were made initially after the floods, but it took a while before more permanent repairs were made.

“The one closest to me, there was significant damage to road and the railroad under underpass,” she said. “The highway department did come out and put gravel and did fill in some of the shoulder damage. We had big pits where rocks had slid off. We still have no pavement or the underpass. Every time it rains it gets washed away. It’s a fairly well traveled road.”

Lasker said the DOH has done some minor repairs in recent weeks to the road to make it easier to travel on.

“They did major filling in under one bridge where the road was washed out at one point,” she said. “It was uncomfortable to drive on. DOH did some fill work but seems me it could use some paving.”

Lasker has spoken with the DOH and she says she can understand why a lack of funding has led the DOH to prioritize road projects.

“I can understand that,” she said. “A lot of us don’t have money these days. I’ve spoken to DOH recently and they told me the damage was so severe they didn’t have funds or manpower. Still it seems to me, roads traveled by school buses four times a day should be taken care of. I wonder what the roads will be like when winter comes.”

However, Tom Camden, acting district manager of the DOH’s District 10, said repairs will be coming to the road soon.

“There was a letting August 24 to repair the swell on 112,” he said. “I haven’t seen yet to whom that was awarded. I realize there are still a number of areas that were damaged during the flooding and we are getting to them. We do intend to get there to pave them by the end of the paving season.”

Lasker continues to be patient with the DOH’s efforts.

“They said they’re trying to get started and that’s good, but it’s certainly been a long time since the floods in March,” Lasker said. “The DOH are nice folks and I know they try.”

While residents along route 112 have said repairs should be coming soon to their area, some in other parts of the county said their repairs have been ignored by the DOH completely.

Residents of Foy Bypass are alleging the Department of Highways has neglected to make repairs to their road and bridge, allowing both to sustain considerable damage.

Dennis Kirby, 64, a Foy Bypass resident, describes the condition of the road as “pitiful.” He cites several problems with the road including missing guardrails, the lack of trimming brush on the side of the road, potholes, and inconvenienced neighbors.

“They haven’t done anything to patch the holes in here since we moved here in 1993,” he said. “They just dry patch it and don’t even pack it. They don’t cut the brush until October and November. We’ve called. I’ve talked to everyone at the state road commission. We’ve aggravated them to death. I’ve talked to Rahall and all of them. They came down about one month ago and said they would fix things.”

Kirby said the conditions of the road were so severe when a neighbor needed to leave for therapy, the road was too difficult for her and her husband to navigate.

“The school bus has to stop and turn around at the bridge because it’s too narrow,” he said.

He said the lack of guardrails have also caused several accidents along the road.

“We’ve been asking for guardrails for years,” Kirby said. “They took the guardrails out. A car went off the hill Monday because of that, and that’s the second time it’s happened. The first car landed in the river. They don’t have signs or guards. We’ve been trying to get them to fix it for ten years, but it doesn’t do any good.”

Kirby does not believe the DOH doesn’t have the money or resources to fix the road where he lives.

“I think it’s a big hoax,” he said. “They promise and promise and promise to fix this road. We don’t get any attention because we’re just a bypass. There are roads in better shape than ours with less people living on them. We have people and kids who live out here. We’re just lost souls here.”

Loretta Hendrick, 73, is another resident of Foy Bypass who said she has also had difficulty with potholes on the road.

“This road has some pot holes that need to be fixed,” she said. “It is hard right here because we have to park alongside the road and everyone has to stop in that spot because there’s a pot hole. It is difficult at times to drive the road, especially in winter time.”

After experiencing the weather last winter, Hendrick said she can understand why the DOH is feeling over extended.

“I can understand that they need money because we had a really bad winter,” she said. “I knew when they can do it, they will do it. It would be good if they could do it before this winter. I can understand the money situation.”

Marvin Purdy, bridge inspector with the DOH and a team were out performing safety checks on the bridge, including checking for deterioration and damage on the structure.

“It’s planned to be replaced,” Purdy said. “Every time they built a new bridge they have to have it up to federal standards. We’re just doing routine safety checks. Everything is done with field measurements. It’s all hands on.”

Tom Camden said the bridge, known as the Duhring Pony Tress Bridge, is currently under review by the DOH.

“It is currently being reviewed for replacement and is being handled by our engineering department in Charleston,” he said.

Camden said Foy Bypass, known to the DOH as Route 15/4, is on the department’s repair schedule.

“From what I understand, it is on our schedule to be mowed and for pot hole patching to be fixed by the end of the season,” he said. “Like all of our projects, this one is dependent on the weather and other conditions and events beyond our control.”

Camden said he was not personally aware of any complaints that had been lodged about the bridge or the road, but said he was looking into things with the DOH headquarters.

“We are doing more research into this area,” he said.

According to Camden, residents can lodge complaints about road repairs through their local maintenance headquarters. The headquarters for Mercer County is located on Route 20 at the intersection of Morrison Drive and can be reached at (304)-425-2782. The headquarters for McDowell County maintenance are located on Route 103 in Havaco and can be reached at (304)-426-8411. 

Camden said if residents have no success there, they can contact the DOH’s complaints offices at (304)-325-2155.

— Contact Kate Coil at kcoil@bdtonline.com

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