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Roadwork likely cause of mudslide

CHARLESTON, W.Va.-- The mudslide that has left dozens of people in Logan County staying in hotels, with no road access to their homes, was likely caused, in part, by road construction on the hillside above.Madison Creek Road, in the Lyburn area, has been closed since Dec. 9. The road provides the only access to homes in the area, and about 40 people were moved across the Guyandotte River, by boat, to area hotels last week.The state Department of Transportation is rerouting W.Va. 10 to the area above the collapsed hillside as part of a long-term roads project. It is also expanding the road to four lanes.DOT officials say that it's impossible to pin the slide on one cause, but that it was probably the combination of the construction and the consistent rain."I'm sure there's a lot of people that had mixed opinions about that. You ask the people in the community and they'll tell you straight up it was the result of the construction," said Brent Walker, director of communications for DOT. "Four days of rain were enough to have concern about any hill."Walker said that there have been about 20 recent slides in the area.A spokesman for Vecellio & Grogan, a Beckley-based contractor working on that stretch of road, declined to comment, deferring to DOT."We can't really put total cause on one thing," said Carrie Bly, a DOT spokeswoman. "We are working up there, we're not denying that, but the weather that we had certainly contributed."
DOT has been working with local agencies to clear Madison Creek Road and it should be open, on a temporary basis, on Thursday."We were able to scrape down to the original grade," Walker said. "We were able to get rid of some organic matter, get down to that, and feel really confident about the stuff up above not endangering the roadway."They are also moving forward with a plan to build a causeway across the Guyandotte, to provide access in case Madison Creek Road is blocked again.There will be flaggers on Madison Creek Road until the causeway is complete, which will be several weeks or a couple of months, Walker said.DOT has also been working with local agencies to provide accommodations for those displaced and stranded by the road closure."This is why we're building Route 10," Walker said. "So that we can give communities like Madison Creek Road one access in case something like this happens."Reach David Gutman at or 304-348-5119.
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