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Rock slide work keeps SR7 closed

CHESAPEAKE — Pulled enough of your hair out trying to get through Chesapeake?

Hope there’s a lot more on your scalp, because it’s going to get harder before it gets easier.

On Wednesday a boulder came crashing down onto the westbound lanes of State Route 7 between U.S. 52 at the Nick Rahall Bridge and State Route 527 at the Robert C. Byrd Bridge. The torrential rains that hit Lawrence County Tuesday night and early Wednesday were cited as the cause.

A crew from the Ohio Department of Transportation came down that morning to investigate with the first report that the lanes closed by the massive rock might be open by Friday afternoon.

Now that won’t be the case. After ODOT’s geotechnical engineer came to the site, it was decided that more of the hillside ought to be brought down deliberately before it comes down on its own.

“We have an emergency contractor starting (Friday) morning to remove the loose boulder rock on the hillside,” Kathleen Fuller, ODOT spokeperson, said. “We are concerned about the stability issues. We want to take care of that.”

Alan Stone Co. of Chester Hill started excavation work Friday with the completion date for the work unknown at this point.

“They agreed anything up there needs to be pushed off the hillside,” Fuller said.

That means the detour for westbound traffic coming from the upper end of Chesapeake to Ironton will continue to be routed through the village on County Road 1.

Also when crews bring down the loose rock, the eastbound lanes will be closed intermittently as well.

Thursday ODOT crews worked to break up the boulder that hit the roadway and clear it away. Then the pavement will be assessed for any damage.

“It is for the safety of the motorists, so we don’t know how long it will take,” Fuller said.