DOH considers permanently closing a portion of River Road

The West Virginia Division of Highways (DOH) is strongly considering permanent closure of the slip-prone portion of River Road, between the Westover bridge and the intersection with DuPont Road.

DOH Spokesman Brent Walker said the hillside has yet to settle following a major slide last Thursday that sent large trees tearing through power lines and left them laying across the roadway.

The slide caused the evacuation of one home and left 22 Mon Power customers without power, including the Morgantown Lock and Dam.

Walker said it will be at least a week before the soil is dry enough to really begin taking stock of the situation.

“It’s a precarious situation. It’s dangerous right now even for us to go in and try to work on it,” Walker said. “We’ve really got some decisions to make as to whether we close it permanently.”

That portion of the road was already closed while the DOH attended to other problem areas. Walker said the pattern in recent years is that as soon as the DOH gets one slip under control, another breaks loose.

“We’re just not making any headway,” he said. “It’s to where we have a major decision to make because our options are becoming fewer and fewer.”

While getting the road sorted may take some time, power was restored to the customers impacted within 24 hours or so.

Mon Power Spokesman Todd Meyers said the residential customers left without power by the slide were hooked back up within five or six hours.

The handful of commercial power customers, including the Morgantown Lock and Dam, MBC Woodshop and the Monongalia County K-9 Adoption Center, were back in power by Friday afternoon.

“Where the slip occurred, we just sort of went around the damage. We put a new pole in down by the Norfolk Southern tracks along the river,” Meyers said. “We ran line down to that pole and constructed a span of wire, about 325 feet of line running parallel with the tracks.”

Meyers said the temporary fix cost between $7,000 and $8,000, including materials and personnel costs. He said once Mon Power gets the go-ahead from the DOH, power will be transferred back to the original line.

He said customers will receive advanced notice as to when that will occur, noting power will likely be off line for about an hour during the switch

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