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Prestonsburg road reopened after being closed for weeks following massive rockslide

Published: Jan. 3, 2022 at 10:08 PM EST
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PRESTONSBURG, Ky. (WYMT) - Update: KY 321 reopened on Friday after shutting down because of the rockslide.

Les Staple announced the reopening on Facebook, adding that people can now drive through the area again.

Original story: A rockslide closed part of a busy road in Floyd County Monday night, bringing first responders to what they called one of the largest slides the area has seen.

“This is the biggest one we’ve had by far. I’ve been here over 20 years and this is the biggest one I’ve seen,” said Kentucky Transportation Cabinet HT 1 Superintendent Randy Hall.

The Prestonsburg Fire Department, Prestonsburg Police Department, and crews from the KYTC responded to KY 321 where part of the mountainside was broken off, blocking both lanes and shoulders of the road, north of the National Guard Armory, between Prestonsburg and Highlands ARH.

“These types of incidents increase with the weather. With the sheer amount of rain that we’ve got, the water has to go somewhere,” said Prestonsburg Police Captain Ross Shurtleff.

The slide, which officials say will take weeks to clean up, caused breaks and other possibly unforeseen damage in the roadway, so Shurtleff said the clean-up is only part of the process.

“It’s not just clean-up. We’ve got to make sure that it’s safe to reopen,” he said. “It’s obvious that it would be a catastrophe, had there been a collision with it.”

Access to homes or businesses has not been directly impacted by the break, based on its location, and no injuries were reported during the slide. However, drivers are reminded to use US 23 or KY 302, which goes around the lake, to get where they are trying to go as crews work to clean up and check out the road.

“So, there’s two options to go around. But people need to understand if they’ve got appointments, if it’s an an emergency or whatever, they just need to go ahead and go around so they don’t have this added time,” said Prestonsburg Mayor Les Stapleton.

As the weather continues, road departments urge caution when traveling on roadways like KY 321, saying the freeze and thaw effect can cause more issues like this across the region.

“In this area, especially, people know they need to use caution, travel during daylight hours if possible, that way they can see stuff ahead,” said Hall.

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