Plans were on track to reopen Madison Creek Road at 5 p.m. Thursday with work on the road continuing Thursday afternoon, according to Carrie Bly, communication specialist for the West Virginia Division of Highways.
The contractor has been working since the initial slide to repair the unstable hillside and clear off the roadway once again so traffic could travel through the stretch safely.
Bly reports crews are continuing to remove debris and the road remains very muddy. Gravel will be placed in certain spots along the road before it is reopened.
Flaggers will be placed along the route, so residents may face temporary delays as they work to control traffic flow in and out of the area.
The DOH is finalizing design plans for a temporary causeway that will cross the Guyandotte River. The Division of Highways communications office will release more information on those plans as they become available.
State Sen. Ron Stollings extended his thanks to the state Department of Transportation and everyone involved in helping the isolated citizens during this challenging situation.
“I appreciate the efforts of the DOT, the fire departments, police, EMS and everyone who worked 24/7 to open this road as quickly as they were able. I also appreciate the patience of the stranded citizens. I’m also hopeful that everyone has as merry a Christmas as possible,” Stollings said.
State Del. Rupert “Rupie” Phillips voiced his thanks for the road being opened so quickly.
“As a group we all pitched in together, Art, Ron, Teddy and myself, to help with what we could. We’re glad that the contractor and DOH were on top of everything. We’re happy that the families will get to be home for Christmas,” Phillips said.
State Sen. Art Kirkendoll added, “I know it’s been very hard on the community. As a senator, I talk to the Department of Highways as soon as a problem happens and I will continue to do that. I want the best results for all the people involved.”
“I’m tickled to death for the residents to be home for Christmas,” said state Del. Teddy Tomblin. “They have been put through a lot of hardship and now we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. This is the result of all of us working together, Rupie, Art and Ron and I, to make phone calls and attend meetings to work together with the DOH and contractor to get things done. I pray nothing else happens until they get the bridge in.”
One of the residents said the ones staying at hotels were going to meet at Thornhills Superstore to ride a bus back in to their homes.
Residents say Davah Hearn, who works with right-of-way for the state Department of Highways, is supposed to be coming to talk to residents about the possibility of voluntary buyouts. Reportedly, she has talked to some of the people who have been staying in hotels.
Resident Linda Wilson has been working alongside five or six of her other neighbors at the Davies Creek Gospel Tabernacle to cook for those who stayed in their homes. They cook two meals a day and clean up. She says she is worn out and is waiting to hear what Hearn has to say.
“I just want to hear what my options are. I also want to know what will happen if we decide not to take the offer.”
With a soggy forecast for the weekend, everyone involved is hoping there will not be any further slippage and the road will stay open.