Contractors are now more than halfway through a 90-day project to remove dangerous rocks and debris from a mountainside high above US 340 near Harpers Ferry.
In May 2023, Triton Construction Inc. was awarded a contract for $10,277,500 to remove rock and install rockfall barriers on a one-mile section of US 340 where it hugs the Shenandoah River just south of Harpers Ferry. The project will require closing US 340 completely until the project is complete.
A posted detour around the project area during work is WV 9 and Virginia SR 9 and Virginia SR 671. Work is being scheduled after Memorial Day and before Christmas to lessen the impact on the traveling public.
West Virginia Division of Highways (WVDOH) District 5 Engineer Lee Thorne, P.E., said WVDOH has adjusted traffic signals and tweaked traffic control along the detour route. “There are still delays, but we’re on the downhill side of the project,” Thorne said.
Triton is currently removing loose material from the mountainside high above US 340, removing large rocks and boulders that threaten to fall, and installing mesh barriers and fences to catch any large rocks that may fall in the future. US 340 along the Shenandoah River was built in the mid-1950s. The cut slopes and exposed rock tower from 150 to more than 300 feet above the roadway.
Approximately 1,500 cubic yards of rock have been removed so far. That’s about 2,300 tons, and is enough to fill 150 tri-axle trucks.
Boulders the size of cars have also been coming down, sometimes unexpectedly. That’s why the WVDOH chose to close US 340 completely during the project instead of keeping one lane open.
“You never know when a rock is going to come down,” Thorne said. “It sounds like pecking, then all of a sudden there’s a huge crash, and this boulder comes down.”
The WVDOH encourages all motorists to allow extra time when traveling near Harpers Ferry and the surrounding area. Motorists can keep track of the project on us340harpersferry.com or check on traffic conditions on WV511.org.