CHESAPEAKE – Ohio Department of Transportation crews are still trying to reopen state Route 7 following Monday’s massive rock slide that shutdown the four-lane, east-west thoroughfare north of Huntington, W.Va.
One eastbound lane was reopened Tuesday between Buffalo Creek Road (County Road 15) and Kimball Lane (Town Highway 287N). Traffic is disrupted from U.S. 52 (17th Street bridge over the Ohio River) to state Route 527 (Sixth Street bridge).
Local and state highway department crews are working around the clock and utilizing heavy equipment to clear the highway, a process officials say could take up to three weeks to accomplish.
Enormous boulders rained down on the roadway early Monday morning, but no was hurt. No vehicles were reportedly hit by the falling debris, but the roadway is heavily damaged.
Ohio State Highway Patrol troopers initially reported small rocks in the roadway about 4 a.m. The massive rock slide, which included boulders bigger than cars, occurred about 7 a.m.
After crews clear the highway of rocks, any additional loose rocks must then be removed from the hillside and the landscape secured in an attempt to avoid future landslides. Repairs to the roadway and replacement of guardrails that were damaged will then occur.
Recent heavy rainfall is being blamed for the slide, and ODOT officials say rock slides after heavy rains is not uncommon, especially along the Route 7 and U.S. 52 corridor. It was following heavy rain in April 2015 when a huge boulder crashed onto U.S. 52 in Coal Grove near the Ashland bridge.