Road conditions on KY 38 continue to cause problems and concerns for Clover Fork residents.
State Rep. Rick Nelson says a meeting is being planned with state and local officials to “come up with a plan.”
“We had the Chief Engineer Sherry Chappell (with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet in Manchester) come up a few weeks ago — back when the first slides came, and she promised, and did, sit down and talk with some of the local officials about the slide,” said Nelson. “Since then we have had additional slides, and we’re in the process of setting up another meeting with the officials to see if there is anything we can do to shore up the problems on KY 38.”
Nelson said there are problems with the highway all the way to the Virginia line.
“One of the things we need to do is clean some of the trees out (on the cliffs along KY 38), that are not rooted real good,” said Nelson. “Every area is a potential slide area as most of our mountain roads are.”
Evarts Mayor Eddie Manning said he contacted state officials and requested the city be given permission to clear KY 38 in the event of a mud or rock slide, which blocks the roadway for residents.
“We did receive permission from the state to use our equipment if this happens,” said Manning. “Along with the threat of Clover Fork residents being hit by falling debris from cliffs along KY 38, if the slides are very serious — and they could be, residents of Clover Fork would be landlocked. We’re different than other parts of the county, because when you go up KY 38 there is no other way out but back down KY 38.”
Manning said the traffic count on KY 38 at Draper in the city limits is one vehicle traveling the road every 13 seconds. This is in the area where several slides have occurred. He said outside the city limits, at Dartmont, where a slide recently occurred and residents were injured, approximately one vehicle every 20 seconds uses KY 38 in that area.
“If something serious occurs, we can only hope ambulances will be able to get in and out of the Clover Fork area in a timely manner,” said Manning. “Our residents are depending on that.”
District 2 Magistrate Bill Moore said he has talked with representatives Fitz Steele and Rick Nelson and state Sen. Brandon Smith with positive results.
“Everyone is concerned and hope to find ways to help,” said Moore. “They know we have issues on KY 38 and are trying to find funds to help. Work has been approved on KY 1601 at Jones Creek and work will begin there as the weather breaks.”
Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Public Information Officer Jonathan Dobson, of the district office in Manchester, said the transportation cabinet “works tirelessly to provide a safe and efficient” roadway system for the people of Harlan County.
“As they did in May 2011, our engineers will not hesitate to close a road for days at a time if there is an imminent threat posed by loose material,” said Dobson. “Because of the endless freeze-thaw cycles endemic to our region, there have been, and will be, instances of rock slides occurring without warning. In these cases, crews will work night and day to clear blocked highways.”
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