MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Like our own local rite of Spring, there are rocks on Monongahela Boulevard.
West-bound traffic remained restricted to one lane just beyond the PRT maintenance facility as of Sunday evening.
Of all the rock slides to impact Monongahela Boulevard, this one seems minor. Probably the most impressive, to date, occurred Jan. 22, 1983, when a boulder estimated at between 20-25 tons rolled the 200 or so feet down from WVU’s Evansdale Campus.
Luckily, nobody was injured. Also luckily, The Dominion Post photographer Ron Rittenhouse watched it happen through the viewfinder of his camera.
That may be the biggest rolling stone to come all the way down, but it’s certainly not the only one — and on more than one occasion, vehicle strikes occurred.
In fact, according to The Dominion Post archive, the Division of Highways (DOH) closed the road and intentionally brought a 50-ton boulder down in 1997 before a combination of rain and gravity could get involved. Days earlier, a four-ton stone sent a vehicle spinning in the road and its driver to the hospital.
During a previous gathering in Morgantown, DOH District 4 Engineer Don Williams said that DOH and WVU need to address the issue.
“That’s the university, too. Most of that side is on WVU. It really is, but we have a great partner and relationship with WVU,” Williams said. “We need to fix that. We need to quit shutting down Mon Boulevard once or twice a year because of rock falls.”
Williams said the DOH has geotechnical engineers looking at the hillside.
Messages seeking information about when the road might be reopened were not returned.
This story, written by Ben Conley, first appeared in the Monday, April 16 edition of The Dominion Post.