Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

March 23, 2013

Traffic still rerouted on detour as highway crews clear rock slide from Interstate 77

BLUEFIELD — Friday marked the third straight day that traffic on northbound I-77 was detoured from the northern portal of the H. Edward Steele Tunnel, across John F. Nash Jr. Boulevard to U.S. Route 460 East to the Rod Thorn All-American Interchange to resume their northward travel on I-77.

Most motorists seem to understand the temporary detour flow, but Tom Camden, district manager of District 10, of the state’s Division of Highways said he is aware of the ongoing inconvenience, and added that crews are working “round the clock” to restore the section of interstate highway for safe travel.

“Obviously, we’ve made progress, but there’s a lot more material there than we expected,” Camden said. “We’re trying to remove material and make it solid. Our crews are working around the clock to get the highway open.” By Friday afternoon, he still couldn’t project when the lanes could be reopened.

The rock slide at the 3.5-mile marker of I-77 that occurred at about 10 a.m., on Wednesday morning seems to have grown legs and has been a popular feature on social media — especially after a DOH worker captured video of the slide when it took place. At least some local residents have been receiving calls from family and friends from across the U.S., to check on the status of the rock fall.

“We’re trying to get it down to solid rock,” Camden said. “We will be working to reopen the highway through the weekend.”

The East River Mountain Tunnel was opened in December 1974, and was dedicated in memory of Steele in 2004.

— Contact Bill Archer at barcher@bdtonline.com

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