Work is under way to secure that landslide-prone section of Beechurst Avenue.
Soon you won’t have to worry about a giant boulder bouncing down the hillside along Beechurst Avenue, crushing the car you’re driving and all of your future hopes and dreams. That might be the stuff that nightmares are made of, but it actually did happen in February to a woman who is probably still recovering from the battery of serious injuries she sustained in the collision. The rock also hit a PRT car and sent two students to the hospital to get checked out.
Since that news report, Morgantown drivers have approached that part of one of town’s major thoroughfares with great trepidation. The state Division of Highways owns the bottom half of the hillside but the upper half belongs to WVU, so the university headed to the drawing board to remedy the situation.
You may have noticed a flurry of activity there recently. The Division of Highways has an entire lane closed, from the auto parts stores almost all the way up the hill to Evansdale Drive. Behind the cement barriers, guys are hanging from ropes wielding chainsaws, and there are guys on the ground with chainsaws, too. Lot’s of chainsaw action. They’ve felled a number of trees on the hillside.
All of this is to enact a $2.9 million plan to stabilize the hillside that WVU’s Board of Governors approved in June. The fix includes work to steady a 400-foot length of an upper sandstone seam and the addition of an “engineered attenuator barrier fence” for 1,600 feet to catch any rocks that may fall down the slope in the future.
WVU is providing 100 percent of the funding for the project, says April Kaull, interim executive director of communications for University Relations. She estimates the job will be finished in September.
photographed by Holly Leleux-Thubron