UPDATE: Interstate 77 re-opened a week after rock slide - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

UPDATE: Interstate 77 re-opened a week after rock slide

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BLUEFIELD (WVVA) - Interstate 77 near Bluefield has been re-opened more than a week after a massive rock slide blocked the both lanes of the highway near mile marker 3.

Crews had worked around the clock -- when not impeded by winter weather -- to stabilize the hillside and clear the road of debris since the rock slide occurred.

"It's been a grueling week for our Division of Highways workers and the contractor as they worked around the clock to clean up the massive rockslide and detour traffic," said Department of Transportation Secretary Paul Mattox. "We appreciate the patience of the I-77 travelers and commend all those who played a role in reopening this vital transportation artery."

The stretch of I-77 was opened at 6:30 p.m. after crews did a final assessment of the hillside, checked for road damage and cleared the road of mud and debris.

The rock slide covered both lanes of I-77 North around 1 p.m. last Wednesday. Smaller rocks had fallen at the troubled area earlier in the day and crews had already blocked off both northbound lanes when the major slide occurred.

Brent Walker, WVDOT spokesperson, told WVVA News that cold temperatures and the constant freezing and thawing of the ground likely led to the slide.

Walker says the rock from the slide was being taken to a nearby spot at the Ingleside exit to be crushed later and used in highway projects.

The recent wet and wintry conditions made the already difficult job of stabilizing the mountainside even harder, WVDOH officials said in a news release earlier this week.

Highway officials had hoped to have one northbound lane on Interstate 77 re-opened last weekend, but the severe weather forced crews to only work during daylight hours.

While the section of I-77 was closed, motorists were detoured off Interstate 77 at Exit 1 onto John Nash Boulevard in Mercer County -- causing major traffic congestion in the Princeton area.

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