Handling Road Slips and Slides; A Rocky Situation for WVDOT

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- As the temperature drops, the risk of road slips and slides becomes greater.

That’s because when the ground goes back and forth from freezing and thawing -- it loosens up the dirt.

“It's West Virginia. We cut our roads through mountains,” West Virginia Department of Transportation spokesperson Brent Walker said.

As a result, there are thousands of slips and slides every year. It's something road crews deal with weekly, and drivers can only hope to avoid.

“We had a couple of flat tires,” Pinch Volunteer firefighter Patrick Clark said about a rockslide along Interstate 79 on Monday morning. “There was a vehicle that had an oil pan rupture. Most of the other ones was strictly body damage.”

Where a slide happens is tough to predict and nearly impossible to prevent. Regardless, WVDOT maintenance crews do look for signs of any future problems.

“We can't really foresee every slip or slide, but we can certainly keep our eyes out,” Walker said.

Because road slips and rock slides are often unpredictable, their work is usually reactive rather than proactive.

However, if a problem is spotted in advance, safety measures are taken.

“If we see that it's unstable, we'll go ahead and stop traffic,” Walker said. “We're not gonna put vehicles on roads that we know to be unsafe.”

Less than 10 percent of the state road fund goes toward slips and slides.

“Those are unforeseen costs,” Walker said. “A lot of times we don't have the money to really clean those up.”

Because of that budget, Walker says sometimes roads have to stay closed until money is available to fix them.

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