CHELYAN, W.Va.–Officials at the state DOH and at Appalachian Power say it’s possible that one lane of U.S. Route 60 could be open to traffic Friday night
Residents that have been affected by the shutdown of Route 60 gathered at the Belle Community Center Wednesday evening for a meeting held by Appalachian Power and the DOH to update the public on the progress of the work being done. Many residents expressed frustration at how the road’s closure had affected their commutes and their businesses, but they were told the road could reopen soon.
“We’ve been almost two weeks on this thing,” DOH Spokesman Brent Walker said. “We’ve got a lot of things going on at the same time, and a lot of things that still need to happen, but with any luck we hope to have it open Friday evening.”
Both the DOH and Appalachian Power reiterated many times that the safety of commuters and those working on the slide is the highest priority. AEP Spokesman Phil Moye described just how treacherous a situation the slide is.
“It’s a steep area, it’s a very compact area, and it’s also unstable,” Moye said. “The water and the land coming down the hillslide actually move. You can watch it move while you’re there. So just being able to work safely in that area is a difficult thing.”
Many residents shared their stories of how the route’s closure has affected them, some saying they park at the nearby Go-Mart and walk to their homes. Wayne Armstrong said the closure has forced him to wake up earlier to get his daughter to high school in Charleston.
“The mountain’s been coming down for over 50 years, and now suddenly we’re shut down completely. I have to get my daughter up at roughly five in the morning to get her to school at Riverside (High School) on time.”
Resident Jean Cary understood that workers had been tirelessly trying to clear the route, but wanted to come for information.
“It’s not that the individuals haven’t been working on the road,” Cary said. “But we need to know when it will be open and what the alternatives are if it’s not open pretty soon.
The road has been closed for ten days, with State Route 61 being used as a detour route. Rain forecasted for Thursday could change plans, but as of right now citizens have reason to be optimistic that at least one lane of the road could be open to traffic Friday evening.