After weeks of rockslide clearance, US 250 reopens to traffic | Recent news

Nearly eight weeks after a landslide dumped tons of dirt and rock onto US 250 – Rockfish Gap Turnpike – in early May, the Virginia Department of Transportation announced Wednesday that the roadway has reopened to traffic and that the slope above was now stabilized.

A grade failure on May 3 caused the partial closure of Rockfish Gap Turnpike between Critzers Shop Road and Afton Mountain Road in Nelson County.

The project was completed approximately two weeks ahead of the scheduled completion date of mid-July. According to a press release from VDOT, traffic patterns have returned to normal, but the ban on trailers through the tractor remains in effect for Afton Mountain Road unless they are making a local delivery.

Lou Hatter, communications manager for VDOT’s Culpeper division, said VDOT was “very pleased” to be reopening the causeway weeks ahead of schedule.

“We were cautiously optimistic that we could open it earlier than mid-July, but there were a lot of factors that would play into that,” Hatter said. “Everything fell into place, the weather worked in our favor and the contractors were ready to work six days a week.”

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Virginia State Police and the Nelson County Sheriff’s Office will continue to patrol the area and enforce tractor-trailer restrictions over the holiday weekend, Hatter said. Signs and other deterrents will remain in place, with the exception of portable message boards, he added.

“The success of this project is the result of cooperation between multiple agencies, including the VDOT, Virginia State Police, and the Nelson County Sheriff’s Office, as well as Nelson County officials. Three districts in VDOT, Culpeper, Lynchburg and Staunton, along with VDOT’s Northwest Regional Operations Group contributed resources to the project,” the statement read.

Over the past eight weeks, VDOT contractors have worked almost around the clock to repair and stabilize the slope above 250 US, removing loose soil, trees and rocks, as well as drilling numerous ground nails in about 80 feet high by 240 feet. wide area.

Northern District Supervisor Tommy Harvey said it was “just wonderful” that the causeway was reopening ahead of schedule.

He thanked all agencies and law enforcement involved for their continued efforts to clean up the rockslide.

“It took a bit of time and the government is not moving fast, but they have solved most of the problems with the trucks and it will continue,” Harvey said. “People put up with a lot, but it’s something that happens that nobody has control over, but you just have to do your best to adapt. I know everyone is going to be happy.”

The soil nailing operation followed the removal of loose materials and consisted of 350 rods drilled into the side of the mountain and secured with cement and a chain-link fence-like mesh, the statement said. In a final stage of slope stabilization, the area was covered with a mixture of grass seed and straw.

An investigation revealed a smaller section of potentially unstable slope near the main landslide which the VDOT corrected. The area was about 100 feet wide by 25 feet high, the statement said.

Hatter said geologists assessed the main slip and noticed the smaller unstable area that could potentially have a slip in the near future.

With resources available and the road already closed, authorities removed the unstable material and also drilled soil nails in this area.

To the frustration of some Afton Mountain Road residents, the landslide caused a significant increase in tractor-trailer traffic along the winding, mountainous road. The VDOT has invested significant resources in deterrence – through additional signage, radio messages and an increased law enforcement presence – in an effort to combat the illegal use of Virginia 6.

Hatter said he appreciates the residents’ patience over the past eight weeks.

“I want to reiterate how much we appreciate the patience and forbearance of the people who live up there…for what they’ve had to endure for the past eight weeks,” Hatter said.

Victoria Dunham, a resident of Afton Mountain Road, said she was thrilled to hear that US 250 had reopened, easing the pressures and worries she and her neighbors have felt in recent weeks.

“I’m amazed that VDOT has passed the deadline and I’m really stunned because I had no idea they were so close to completing the project. The relief we feel now is huge,” Dunham said. .

Virginia F. Goins