They say what goes up must come down, but with so many roads in West Virginia perched on hillsides, that may not be such a good thing. That’s why the West Virginia Division of Highways has nearly 300 slip and slide repair projects scheduled this construction season.
So far this year, the WVDOH has repaired 198 roadside slips or slides statewide, with another 99 repair projects scheduled. Slip and slide repairs will exceed last year’s total of 235 repairs. From Governor Jim Justice and Secretary of Transportation Jimmy Wriston, to County Administrators and Crew Chiefs on the ground, WVDOH is taking a systematic approach to catching up long underfunded maintenance on West Virginia's secondary roads.
“Prioritizing and expediting the repair of slips and slides is one of the most important things we do,” said Joe Pack, P.E., WVDOH Chief Engineer of District Operations. “It's a matter related to the safety of the traveling public.”
With every rain, water flowing down mountainsides causes erosion. When the mountainside itself washes away, everything attached to the mountain goes with it. To properly fix a slip or slide, WVDOH must evaluate each area for the most cost-effective solution which will function long term, providing the best value to taxpayers while keeping them safe on the roads.
No two mountains are the same, and no road curves, rises and falls exactly like any other road. Soil nails, piling walls, micro pilings, how tall, how wide, how deep, into what type of soil, for how many drivers per day, how many passenger vehicles, how many heavy trucks --- site specific considerations are many. While the information is being evaluated and each individual project is being developed, vehicles -- from passenger cars to ambulances -- still need to get through, so cones and signs are placed to alert drivers that work has started on each project.
Slide repairs are occurring in all parts of the state. Some areas, such as the northern panhandle and the southern part of the state, have more slips and slides happen than other areas. WVDOH is taking a systematic approach statewide, providing the training and equipment to do more and more work with its own crews, in addition to, not instead of, work completed by its contracting partners. This approach is designed to complete projects of all sizes and types more efficiently.
|In Cabell County, WVDOH maintenance crews were recently using one of the WVDOH’s own drills to install a piling wall along Raccoon Creek. A piling wall, consisting of concrete slabs supported by steel beams driven deep into the ground, is one of the most aggressive ways to repair a slide.|
|In Logan County, repair crews recently finished a slip repair on Hanging Rock Road with soil nails.|
Soil nails are long steel bolts that are driven into the side of a hillside to hold back the rock and soil. Once the soil nails are installed, the hillside is reinforced.
|In Harrison County, WVDOH is preparing to use soil nails to repair a slip along Locust Street in Bridgeport. The need for slip repair projects is vast, but with each investment in a drill, a truck or in training a crew to do new and different types of work, WVDOH gains ground -- literally. |