BLUEFIELD, W.Va. — The state Division of Highways could close both north and southbound lanes of Interstate 77 in Mercer County on Tuesday to blast away an unstable hillside.
DOH spokesperson Carrie Bly said the agency is hiring a contractor to deal with a situation that could get worse if something isn’t done soon.
“We are going to use explosives and blast that hillside down,” Bly said. “Unfortunately that means there is going to have to be a closure on I-77.”
The DOH hopes the southbound lanes between Princeton and Bluefield will only be closed for about a half-hour following the blasting, but the northbound lanes could be closed for an entire day. If that’s the case, the DOH will reinstitute a U.S. Route 460 detour that was used last spring following a rockslide just north of the new problem area.
“Our hope is we can do it in one big blast, bring down the hillside that’s unstable and clean up the southbound lanes and get that traffic flowing,” she said.
A few days ago the DOH closed one northbound lane three miles from the state line when maintenance crews noticed rocks had started to fall in the area.
“We know that this hillside is unstable,” Bly said, “and if we don’t do anything and take action and cause a little bit of inconvenience that hillside could come down and people could get hurt.”
The DOH hopes to have its final plan ready by early in the week.