There’s good reason to think River Road poses potential risk

You could say a risk runs through it.
That is, River Road (Monongalia County Route 45), which for more than a decade has been the source of many costly repairs and as many major failures.
It’s apparent this road is unstable. Topography, slips and slides, porous soil and bad drainage are all characteristic of this road. This is not some rural back road, either. Indeed hundreds of vehicles, including school buses and heavy trucks, use it daily.
Yet, since January 2009 this road has been closed numerous times for periods ranging from weeks to months to more than a year twice, most recently from April 17, 2018 to earlier this month.
The most recent closure followed a major landslide that toppled power lines and poles forcing the DOH to block off a 1.27-mile-stretch of River Road.
Then seemingly out of the blue — without informing anyone — the DOH said it decided to reopen it after no movement of the road was detected for several months.
Perhaps that’s a result of a lengthy dry spell in our area and the fact no traffic has used this road for more than a year.
Or maybe River Road is good to go and the DOH is really hard at work on plans for a permanent fix.
Yet, the harsh reality is this road has suffered so many structural failures over the years you still probably want to avoid it altogether.
To put it more bluntly, a catastrophic slide along this road will not come as a surprise to anyone.
Over the past 10 years the DOH has only continued to perpetuate this disaster waiting to happen with quick, cheap and temporary fixes.
Of course, all the while the DOH is constantly “looking” at or “monitoring” it, too.
However, there never seems to be any sense of urgency to address this issue once and for all.
Simply cleaning up the last slide and eye-balling this road and the hillside above and below it for cracks or slippage is not reassuring.
Especially knowing that only last year the DOH said there were as many as 20 active slips along this stretch of road and it might never reopen.
That was due to the estimated $6 million cost to actually stabilize the hillside then. River Road was already a money pit, but this “fix” would only deepen that hole.
Worse yet, this road despite the DOH’s monitoring, still poses a potential risk to the public without such repairs.
Meanwhile, we’re told again and again the DOH is working on a design and study to fix it permanently.
Still, we cannot help but think: Is it going to take a catastrophe to ultimately fix River Road or close it forever?

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