CHARLESTON, W.Va. —  Work on US Rt. 340 that has blocked off that road and created lengthy detours is now halfway through its expected 90-days.

The West Virginia Division of highways reports the work continues to remove dangerous rocks and debris from a mountainside high above US 340 near Harpers Ferry. In May 2023, Triton Construction Inc. was awarded a contract for $10,277,500 to remove rock and install rockfall barriers on a one-mile section of US 340 where it hugs the Shenandoah River just south of Harpers Ferry. The project will require closing US 340 completely until the project is complete.

Work to mitigate rock hazards continues on US Rt. 340 (Photo: WVDOH)

 A posted detour around the project area during work is WV 9 and Virginia SR 9 and Virginia SR 671. Work was scheduled after Labor Day and before Christmas to lessen the impact on the traveling public. West Virginia Division of Highways (WVDOH) District 5 Engineer Lee Thorne, P.E., said WVDOH has adjusted traffic signals and tweaked traffic control along the detour route. “There are still delays, but we’re on the downhill side of the project,” Thorne said. Triton is currently removing loose material from the mountainside high above US 340, removing large rocks and boulders that threaten to fall, and installing mesh barriers and fences to catch any large rocks that may fall in the future. US 340 along the Shenandoah River was built in the mid-1950s. The cut slopes and exposed rock tower from 150 to more than 300 feet above the roadway.

“Approximately 1,500 cubic yards of rock have been removed so far.  That’s about 2,300 tons, and is enough to fill 150 tri-axle trucks,” according to an update from West Virginia Division of Highways. “Boulders the size of cars have also been coming down, sometimes unexpectedly. That’s why the WVDOH chose to close US 340 completely during the project instead of keeping one lane open.”

Thorne said, “You never know when a rock is going to come down.”

“It sounds like pecking, then all of a sudden there’s a huge crash, and this boulder comes down.”

The WVDOH encourages all motorists to allow extra time when traveling near Harpers Ferry and the surrounding area. Motorists can keep track of the project here.

More updates on traffic conditions can be found here.