Update: Mountain Parkway westbound lanes remain closed

Crews working to determine if damages stretch to eastbound lanes
Published: Jul. 23, 2020 at 4:01 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 24, 2020 at 12:36 PM EDT
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POWELL COUNTY, Ky. (WYMT) - Update: The westbound lanes of the Mountain Parkway have been closed to drivers since late July. Crews are work to learn more about a sinkhole that is nearly 50 feet deep.

“Several weeks ago we noticed that there was a dip in the road there on the westbound side and we had paved that or patched that,” said Public Information Officer for KYTC District 10, H.B. Elkins.

In late July, workers closed the westbound lanes as they noticed holes in the pavement.

“They found out that all of the material, the dirt underneath the pavement had washed away and left a rather deep sinkhole,” added Elkins.

Elkins said a couple of weeks ago crews were out doing exploratory digging but were not able to reach as far as they hoped. Crews then ran water into the sinkhole.

“You can see the water running down through there and into a crack, in the rock where they dug down so you know obviously that showed there was a problem and that water was going somewhere,” said Elkins.

Geotechnical crews work to find out if the water is running under the eastbound lanes.

“We don’t know right now if we would have to close the eastbound lanes at the same time as the westbound lane, that’s what they’re trying to determine,” added Elkins.

Crews will keep the westbound lanes closed while closing the left eastbound lane on Friday. Workers are trying to find out if there is an impact on the eastbound side of the parkway.

“If we can fix it all at the same time, versus fixing the known problem now, then having a problem develop later then having to come in and find out what’s going on,” said Elkins.

The eastbound lanes of the parkway are safe for drivers.

“They are fine right now, just need to watch out for lane closures and slow down in case there’s any slow-moving traffic,” added Elkins.

A heads-up for drivers using the Mountain Parkway near the Powell-Wolfe county line. Both westbound lanes remain closed...

Posted by KYTC District 10 on Thursday, August 6, 2020

Update 8/8/20: Both westbound lanes of the Mountain Parkway in Powell County near the Wolfe County line remain closed.

Friday, the left lane of the eastbound side will be closed starting at 6 a.m.

The lane will also be closed on Saturday.

Experts will be examining damage to see if the problem extends to the eastbound side. Drivers should watch for signs and electronic arrows that alert them to the lane-closing.

Original Story: 7/23/20

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet shut down the westbound lanes of the Mountain Parkway Wednesday due to a sinkhole causing sections of the roadway to develop holes.

“We thought that the asphalt patching that we had done there had taken care of that dip but then when kept getting worse we realized well there’s something going on underneath here that we can’t see,” said H.B. Elkins, spokesperson for Kentucky Department of Highways District 10.

Several months ago officials noticed a dip in the left lane right under the Tunnel Ridge Road Bridge. The roadway was patched, but things still got worse.

Engineers discovered a sinkhole had developed underneath the road surface, with cracks and holes now developing on the roadway itself.

“Beneath the roadbed has eroded and those concrete slabs that had been paved over over the years those concrete slabs were basically serving as a bridge across the sinkhole that had developed,” said Elkins.

Due to the shutdown, westbound traffic is now detoured at exit 40 in Wolfe County onto northbound Ky 15. Drivers can return to the parkway at exit 33 at Slade. The westbound lanes of the parkway are blocked at Exit 40 at Pine Ridge in Wolfe County.

“We need to know what happened, and what caused it to be able to come up with a kind of permanent repair that will make sure it doesn’t happen again,” said Elkins.

Highway officials are encouraging truckers traveling long distances to detour to the Hal Rogers Parkway to I-75 instead of taking KY 15.

“If they’re going to Lexington or beyond they may prefer to take another route. They may prefer to use KY 80 and the Hal Rogers Parkway through Hazard and Manchester to London and then hit I-75 and go to Lexington.”

They are also encouraging drivers unfamiliar with the route to drive carefully.

“We’re urging drivers to use caution especially those who aren’t familiar with that section of KY 15 because it is much narrower than Mountain Parkway. You’ve got a two lane road instead of a four lane road and you’ve got a very steep hill with a couple of sharp hairpin curves.”

Also, to accommodate truck traffic on the detour route, the southbound lane of KY 15 has been closed at milepost 2.1 in Powell County and uphill traffic on Slade Hill is blocked.

“Just in that area where those curves are. Local traffic will be able to get to Slade up to the last residents before you start up the hill,” said Elkins.

Updates on the repairs and the expected opening date will be posted on KYTC District 10′s Facebook and Twitter pages.

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