WVDOH uses new drill to rapidly reopen US 19 in Spanishburg

SPANISHBURG, W.Va. – Last week, the West Virginia Division of Highways reopened a 175-foot section of US 19 near Spanishburg in Mercer County.

On March 3, 2021, the road was undermined by the Bluestone River due to high water and collapsed during the night. The next morning, WVDOH sent one of its two new drills to Route 19. The drills are used to build pile walls to hold up failing embankments.

In the past, WVDOH relied on rented drills with their own crews in some areas, while in other areas contractors were the only option. Purchasing two drills for use by WVDOH crews is a step in expanding the capabilities of the Division; it will not replace contractor work, but will expand WVDOH’s overall capacity to get more projects completed more quickly.

“We really appreciate Governor Justice and his support of our people on the ground having what they need to get the job done,” said Joe Pack, District 10 Engineer.

Many areas of West Virginia, with its mountainous terrain, are prone to mudslides, slips, and flooding; problems that can occur quickly.

“We were right along the riverbank,” Pack said. “Material was falling out from under the roadway as we were working.”

Because of the danger of further collapse, Pack decided to close the section of the road while repairs were made. DOH crews built a piling wall along that section of the road and filled in the washed-out bank to stabilize the roadbed and rebuild the road above.

The road reopened on Wednesday, March 17, two days ahead of an already aggressive schedule.

“Our crews worked diligently at it and we were able to expedite it,” he said. “We have Mike Matherly and Doug Potter, the drill operators, and the rest of the crew is Harry Thomas, Ethan Webb, Ricky Doyle, Timmy Weese, and Aaron Keene. They went above and beyond.”

WVDOH saved both time and money because they were able to do the repair work in-house.

“Our guys have a vested interest in this work,” he said. “They live here and they have family here who drive the roads, so they understand the urgency.”

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