BLUEFIELD, W.Va. — The state Division of Highways could opt to close the northbound lanes of Interstate 77 in Mercer County for an extended period of time if it decides a rock slide above the interstate is imminent.
Experts were on the scene Tuesday near the three-mile marker between Bluefield and Princeton. DOH spokesman Brent Walker said the experts would come up with a plan.
“We’re still trying to assess our next move,” Walker said.
The DOH closed the northbound slow lane Monday as a precaution. Walker said the potential rock slide was spotted by a DOH crew doing some regular maintenance in the area. The area is just south of a major rock slide that took place in March. Motorists had to detour to U.S. Route 460 from Bluefield to Princeton for several days.
Walker said the detour is possible again if the rock slide looks like it’s about to happen.
“If we feel like a slip or a slide is imminent, of course, we would like to take care of things ourselves, move it ourselves, instead of letting nature take its course,” Walker said.
The potential slide is along the same fault line as slide from earlier this year.
The agency expected to have a plan for the hillside late in the day on Tuesday.
The detour, if put into place, would add about a half-hour to a I-77 northbound trip. Walker said DOH personnel would man the busy intersections like they did in the spring.