West Virginia Route 72, also known as River Road, is one of the more heavily traveled roads in Preston County.
Some residents are in danger of losing the ability to use that road.
River Road is nearly taking on a literal meaning. The two-laned main road in and out of Rowlesburg and other towns in Rreston county is on the verge of being unusable in a spot less than three miles outside of Rowlesburg.
“A couple weeks ago we got some pretty good rains. So that’s opened it up to where there’s a five or six foot section just completely out. And the crack itself is opened up to eight, ten, twelve inches wide, and it’s slowly starting to creep across the road, as well,” said John Crippin, Fellowsville resident.
The problem is getting worse. The changes in the road are happening quickly, with weather and constant travel on the road not helping the issue.
Some of the photos attached to the story were taken less than three weeks before the airing of this story, and as you see the road has gotten significantly worse, falling further off the side of what was the road into Cheat River.
Residents were told permanent road repairs aren’t scheduled to take place until 2019.
“Spring 2019 is what we’re looking for right now. we’ll see what happens over the winter. that’s what really makes me nervous. is that it’s going to fall even more,” said Miranda Snyder, Rowlesburg resident
A District 4 Division of Highways crew recently put in a culvert, widened the road and installed temporary stoplights. However th road is effectively just one lane at that spot.
From Rowlesburg, Route 72 connects the town to multiple schools and Preston Memorial Hospital.
If the road continues to collapse before a permenant fix can be made next year, it could cause serious problems.
“It’s the main through fare from this area to Kingwood. So if that road would fall in you would have to re-route and go all the way around Tunnelton or go up through Terra Alta. Yeah the hospital’s that way, so if something would happen and the road would fall through — accident-wise — ambulance, fire trucks would have to go all the way around to get there,” said Snyder.
The road is still usable in that spot for now, but drivers should be cautious when driving on the road near that slip.