Department of Highways, District 10
Transportation Cabinet moves closer to reopening KY 699 in Perry County; State Highway Commissioner Williams visits site of mudslide
JACKSON, KY – (April 26, 2006) – Today, Kentucky Highway Commissioner Marc D. Williams visited the site of a mudslide in Perry County that has closed KY 699 in the Leatherwood area since last Tuesday.
Commissioner Williams and other Transportation Cabinet personnel viewed the efforts being made to reopen the highway, and the commissioner pledged his support to expedite the process.
"This has been a significant challenge for everyone affected by this slide, but it appears that if all goes well we are not too far away from reopening KY 699," Williams said. "Having walked the entire length of this 1,700 foot slide, I can tell you that there has been a tremendous amount of material move down the hillside. Fortunately, with a lot of teamwork from several groups who have worked with the Department of Highways, we are close to restoring some normalcy to the residents who live in the community of Leatherwood who have had their lives severely disrupted by this event."
The highway will not be reopened to normal traffic until the roadway has been cleaned up and the slide stabilized, and officials are convinced the area is safe for travel. The Transportation Cabinet is seeking an emergency contract to construct diversion ditches on the mountainside. These ditches will move the water that continues to flow off the mountain away from the slide area and help to stabilize the slide. Current estimates are that normal traffic will not resume on the highway until this weekend or early next week.
"Obviously, weather will affect our work as well as the stability of the slide," said Linda Wagner-Justice, chief district engineer for the Department of Highways District 10, which includes Perry County. "All efforts are being made to reopen the road as quickly as possible while at the same time keeping the safety of the traveling public foremost in mind."
The source of the water runoff that caused the slide is undetermined, and the situation remains under investigation by the Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet.
Passenger vehicles weighing less than 5 tons are being detoured around the slide onto a route maintained by the Perry County Fiscal Court. County personnel worked today to improve the detour route to make it smoother and easier to travel. Diverting the stream of passenger vehicle traffic on KY 699 ensures that work to abate the slide can continue with minimal interruption. School buses are being allowed to use KY 699 under escort from Transportation Cabinet personnel. Larger vehicles such as coal trucks are also being allowed to use KY 699 at their own risk since no viable detour alternative exists. Law enforcement personnel are patrolling in the area and enforcing the road closure.
State Highway Commissioner Marc D. Williams and District 10 CDE Linda Wagner-Justice inspected the site of the mudslide in Perry County on Wednesday, April 26.