WESTOVER — The West Virginia Division of Highways (DOH) intends to have a plan in place for the lower portion of River Road by the end of May.
DOH personnel from District 4 recently met with local officials, including members of the Monongalia County Commission to discuss a number of area slides on the DOH radar.
A major slide on April 17 forced the evacuation of one home and sent large trees tearing through power lines and left them lying across River Road, about 150 yards from Lockside Road.
The question has become whether the DOH continues to address the seemingly annual slides along the stretch of road or cuts its losses and closes it permanently to through traffic.
Commissioner Ed Hawkins said the DOH intends to bring in geotech engineers to assess the condition of the hillside, which, he said, has yet to quit moving.
“Addressing it will really be based on what the geotech engineers decide. At that time, all of River Road will be evaluated,” Hawkins said. “Then we will all meet again and discuss the plan that has been developed for the mitigation of the slide and/or whether or not they’re going to close the road. It’s going to be in the engineers’ hands.”
This latest slide came with DOH crews already on the same stretch of lower River Road repairing a previous slide. Hawkins said that initial slide project should be wrapping up by the end of June — right around the same time a joint project between the county and DOH will have DuPont Road down to one lane for ditching and resurfacing.
“There’s going to be a lot of work in this area that people need to know about,” Hawkins said. “We want people to know they can still get to the [Monongalia County] K-9 Adoption Center and other businesses and homes, but you’ve got to come through Westover and down DuPont.”
Hawkins said the county is looking at placing signs at the entrance to River Road near the Westover Bridge as well as in Westover, near DuPont Road.
The DOH is also preparing to address another slide on Kingwood Pike.
“This is also a high priority slide. That’s one of two ways you can get into Preston County — Kingwood Pike or Route 7,” Hawkins said. “The DOH is shifting money to this project. They hope to begin working there at the end of June. Until then, it will stay as it is, with cones and Yield signs.”
Lastly, Hawkins said the DOH is also in the process of evaluating the slide that has a lane of Monongahela Boulevard closed to traffic.
It was explained that District 4 typically gets about $1.4 million annually for slide mitigation across six counties, with most slides costing about $1,000 a foot to repair.