Rockfall covers Route 80 in Knott County

Eastbound lanes of Route 80 have been blocked by an enormous rockfall. (Picture provided by Kentucky Department of Highways)
Eastbound lanes of Route 80 have been blocked by an enormous rockfall. (Picture provided by Kentucky Department of Highways)

HINDMAN, Ky. — A rockfall on Route 80 in Knott County, near the intersection with Route 1102, has reduced eastbound traffic to one lane – using the median – according to Bobby Smith, Knott County superintendent for Highway District 12.

Smith says the rock is too large to remove in one piece.

“We have contacted Jigsaw, our contractor who has the equipment to drill the big rock into smaller pieces that can be removed with our equipment,” Smith said. “Meanwhile, flaggers are directing traffic. The sky is already overcast, so when daylight begins to fade into night, it will be critical that people watch for the men who are flagging traffic. Precipitation and fog may make it difficult to see. We surely do not want anyone injured anywhere, but it is especially critical right now that people driving Route 80 in Knott County slow down and be alert.”

Temperatures started dropping rapidly in the early afternoon hours, turning rain into icy precipitation in some areas, to sleet in other sections of the seven-county district, which runs from Lawrence County in the north to Letcher County in the south. The rain is expected to mix with sleet and then turn into snow as night falls. Accumulations could be from 1-to-3 inches by Saturday morning.

Darold Slone, Branch Manager and Snow and Ice Coordinator for the district, says all maintenance crews have been on duty since the early morning hours and will continue to monitor and treat state highways throughout the night.

“When a weather event like this begins,” Slone said, “we split into A and B crews, working around the clock until the event is over. The B crews will report at midnight tonight.”

Motorists are urged to drive carefully on their way home this afternoon and evening, to get home (or to work if you work late shift) and stay put.

“The bulk of this weather event should occur tonight and early tomorrow morning. The safest place to be is indoors,” he said. “If you must go out, remember to buckle up, make sure all your vehicle lights are working, that you have plenty of gas, and that you drive slowly and cautiously. Be safe out there!”