DOT Applies for Funds To Repair W.Va. 88 Slip

While more than 500 road slips and slides continue to plague the Northern Panhandle, the West Virginia Department of Transportation has applied for discretionary state funds to make repairs to a road slip affecting a small section W.Va. 88 near Sherrard.

Brent Walker, DOT spokesman, said officials continue to keep an eye on that particular slip while prioritizing the hundreds of other road repairs affecting the region. He said while the slip on W.Va. 88 has moved considerably in recent months and has narrowed the road to one lane with stop signs positioned at both ends of the slip, officials have seen some kind of movement at that location as far back as 2011. He said it may be more than a month before that particular slip is repaired, unless it would worsen.

“If something would become unsafe, then we would need to act sooner,” Walker said. “If that discretionary funding is approved then it will just be a matter of scheduling.”

Walker said while the DOT has applied for discretionary state funds to fix the slip, a lot of their efforts continue to focus on the many potholes plaguing roads.

He said they have to continually reassess each situation and decide whether emergency vehicles and school buses can get through the affected areas safely.

Walker said with more than 500 repairs needed in the Northern Panhandle alone, it gives residents some kind of perspective on what the Department of Transportation is dealing with.

While Walker admits the additional heavy traffic – including two Williams Energy superloads – traveling through the region because of the recent surge in the oil and gas industry can add to the continued decay of roads, it is not the sole factor. He said the freeze and thaw process during an extremely harsh 2013-14 winter season has been another big contributor to road problems.

“We’ve got ice jacking that occurs in the bedrock … and it is certainly a contributing factor,” Walker said. “So we are definitely juggling our maintenance forces and trying to attack the damage left by this winter on several levels: slips, slides and potholes.”

Walker is hopeful repairs will be made to the W.Va. 88 slip before a third superload is scheduled to travel along that section of road this spring.

“From what I’ve seen from the two previous superloads, they would have a hard time negotiating that area with the road in its current state,” Walker said. “With that superload coming in, there’s a good chance that we would work toward that knowing how important that is to industry and to those kind of things.”

Walker said people need to realize when the DOT moves workers from one project, it is taking away from another project.

“So that’s what we are faced with … those are always challenges we have from a maintenance standpoint, but throw in a winter like the one we just had and we certainly have our work cut out for us,” he said.