WESTOVER, W.Va. — 20 slides have turned the long-spanning River Road into one of Monongalia County’s biggest quandaries, County Commissioner Ed Hawkins said.
“There’s 20 slides right now on the lower portion,” he said. “There’s only 1.4 million dollars per year. That money is already spent for this year.”
That’s 1.4 million dollars per year for the entirety of DOH District 4. The full repairs needed for the particularly 1.27 mile stretch of River Road could cost, at bare minimum, more than four times that budget.
“We, being Commission, being the City of Westover, are probably going to present a letter to the DOH in Charleston requesting that we look toward the Lower River Road funding as an immediate project in the Fall and in the Summer,” he said. “Then we’ll look towards what we can do towards the Spring of 2019 on the DuPont section.”
In the meantime, the local DOH is trying to orchestrate a triage of sorts — keep the road open and accessible to the residents and small business owners despite the seemingly endless slides.
“DOH is very concerned about access to the residents, to the local businesses,” District Engineer Don Williams said. “I think we have a plan to, at least, maintain that access. But the funding to open the whole road is so much that we’re going to have to look at that very carefully.”
Without proper funding, Williams said the options are limited.
“We’re going to lobby to our central office to work on the upper end beyond what we normally get,” he said. “We’re going to look at those options.”
For the foreseeable future, the lower portion of River Road is likely going to be unusable.
“Best case scenario is by the end of this fiscal year to have the (upper) River Road taken care of,” Hawkins said. “That includes paving as well.”
A major slide on April 17 was part of a series of slides that have continued to damage River Road.
Williams met with stakeholders in the area earlier this week, including Westover Mayor Dave Johnson and the owners of the Morgantown Industrial Park.