UPDATE Tuesday     The state Division of Highways announced the northbound detour would be in effect Tuesday until 5 p.m.

BLUEFIELD, W.Va. — The state Division of Highways has its fingers crossed hoping it can have the hillside above Interstate 77 in Mercer County stabilized by Tuesday.

The northbound lanes between Bluefield and Princeton were closed again Monday morning as a contractor worked to remove large rocks. DOH spokesperson Carrie Bly said the controlled blasting that took place last Friday didn’t accomplish all they wanted.

“We still have some more work ahead of us and of course as a precaution, if we were going to continue work, we need to have both of those lanes closed because it’s kind of a, ‘what if?’ Bly said.

The northbound detour takes all I-77 northbound motorists off at the Bluefield exit onto U.S. routes 52 and 460 before back onto I-77 north at Princeton. The southbound lanes are open.

Bly was cautiously optimistic Monday morning about the work scheduled for the day.

“We hope to be able to work through the day, continue to bring some of that rock down and be able to reopen the (northbound) fast lane this evening,” Bly added the northbound slow lane near the slide would be closed for several days.

Bly said in the long run it’s better to close the busy northbound lanes for a few hours than several weeks.

“We wanted to bring it down in a controlled manner, it just didn’t come down as we planned,” Bly said. “It’s taking a little longer and we’re using different tactics but in the long run this is much better than the hillside coming down unexpectedly.”

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