Highway crews quickly cleaned up Wednsday's rockfall along Route 114.
MIDDLE CREEK — With temperatures in the 70s and forecasters at the National Weather Service in Jackson warning of potential tornadoes from a squall line traversing the state, motorists along Route 114 learned they need to be on the lookout for more than just rain, hail, wind or twisters coming from the sky.
The highway was closed Wednesday morning, after a shelf of overhanging rock larger than a car tumbled onto the road below, blocking both lanes, about seven miles outside of Prestonsburg.
No one was travelling along the road when the break occurred, and no injuries or damage was reported.
The Department of Highways was called to the scene and had the mess cleaned up in less than an hour, once work got underway. However, workers at the scene said the site could see another rockfall soon, as they pointed to another overhanging shelf that appeared to be developing cracks.
Even when such falls do not cause accidents, there is still an expensive cost to pay. A study by the Kentucky Geological Survey in 2011 showed that, between 2002 and 2009, the state spent more than $1 million to correct damage caused by landslides and sinkholes in only six of the state’s 120 counties. All six counties were in Eastern Kentucky, and one of them was Floyd County.
Judge-Executive R.D. “Doc” Marshall said the problem is simply a matter of rainfall combining with mountainous terrain.
“What we encounter more in our area of the state is simply the fact that the geography and topography of our lands creates such great watersheds,” Marshall said. “We have a tremendous amount of water in a short period of time that will come down over a ravine or a little creek area that will be just a trickle, and then when that water hits, it might be four or five feet deep.”