(Courtesy of ODOT District 9)
(Courtesy of ODOT District 9)

Work was under way Friday to remove a massive, 1,500-ton boulder from U.S. Route 52 West in Lawrence County following an overnight slide that occurred just east of the Ashland, Ky. twin bridges near Coal Grove.

The landslide occurred between approximately 2 and 2:30 a.m. near Township Road 268 (Crabtree Hollow Road), where a boulder landed in the westbound lanes and residual rock, dirt and debris landed in the eastbound lanes.

All four lanes of the highway were closed during the overnight and early morning hours; however, ODOT crews were able to clear the eastbound lanes earlier Friday, reopening U.S. 52 East to one lane of traffic at approximately 9:30 a.m.

 

Expediting efforts to restore the westbound lanes of U.S. 52, the Ohio Department of Transportation – District 9 has issued an emergency declaration to extend an existing contract with DGM, Inc. to remove the rock from the roadway, and cleanup efforts are under way. Their crews are working with ODOT maintenance forces on opposite sides of the rock to cut, clear and haul it from the site.

Once the rock has been cleared, ODOT will assess the pavement and perform any repair work that needs to be completed prior to opening the route. Currently, crews are scheduled to be working around the clock and through the weekend to clear the road.

Although the duration of closure is still unknown, it is expected that the route will remain closed for several days.

While U.S. 52 West is closed, motorists will be detoured via the 17th Street (U.S. 52) bridge at Huntington, West Virginia, to I-64 and U.S. 23 in Kentucky to the 12th/13th Street twin bridges at Ashland, Ky.

For safety purposes, eastbound U.S. 52 will be restricted to one lane while cleanup efforts are under way.