Hillside cleared of loose rocks

Published 12:36 am Sunday, December 15, 2013

Motorists coming off the Simeon Willis Bridge from Ashland, Ky., into Coal Grove may have noticed men rappelling off the face of the hillside. They are not up there for sport, but to bring safety to those traveling on U.S. 52 as part of an ongoing bench cleaning.

“Periodically we do this every couple of years,” said Kathleen Fuller, public information officer for Ohio Department of Transportation District 9. “Our geotechnical people do an assessment of the needs. We look for the potential for rocks that are going to fall and we need to mediate that as quickly as we can. If it is likely it going to come loose, we take it down.”

Crews from BUDS Inc. have been working on the project since October.

Email newsletter signup

They start at the top of the face of the hillside and rappel down checking for and chipping away at loose rock.

“There are a few different methods for taking them down,” Fuller said. “It depends on how heavy or big the boulders are and how it is lodged into the side of the wall of the hillside. They start at the top and work their way down.”

The project, to cost $269,000, is expected to be completed by Jan. 31. It spans from State Route 650 at Hanging Rock to the two bridges going in and out of Kentucky and Ohio.

“If there is a weather-related delay, weather could become a factor to slow the progress. We address that on a day-to-day and week-to-week basis.”