West Virginia Paving employees speak out about re-opening I-77 - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

West Virginia Paving employees speak out about re-opening I-77

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Things are back to normal on Interstate 77 near Sissonville.

Traffic is running smoothly, and travelers are getting where they need to go.

Just days ago, an 800 foot section of the roadway was destroyed by a natural gas explosion, powerful enough to melt road-signs, and level five homes.  

Chet Rodabaugh was the paving manager who assembled the crew once they got the call.

Rodabaugh and ten crew members made their way to the scene, went to work at 5 p.m. Tuesday, and had the job finished by 8 a.m. Wednesday.  

They were seven hours ahead of schedule.

"This, by far is the worst I've seen." Said Rodabaugh.  "We do a lot of car and truck fires, but that's just small patches.  I talked to some other guys who were out there and they've never seen anything like it either and they've been here a lot longer than I have."

The crew paved 930 tons of hot mix asphalt on the north and south bound lanes.  By 3:30 a.m. Wednesday, the northbound lanes were opened.  By 8:05 a.m., the south bound lanes were opened. 

"West Virginians are known for that.  I'm really glad and pleased to be in a state where people will do that when there are problems," said Randy Camp of Haynes Branch. 

Shelley Bridemore lives near the site of the explosion.  She said, "A lot of us here in Sissonville are really proud of them for getting it open."

One crew member, Josh Whitlock, ran the asphalt roller all night.  Along with brushing debris on the roadway, the roller sprays water so asphalt doesn't stick to the equipment. 

For 15 hours Whitlock was soaking wet in 20 degree temperatures.

"Got guys like that I work with every day.  They never complain or anything, it just whatever it takes to get the job done.  Makes it nice when you come to work every day and you have those people to work with," said Rodabaugh. 

Camp said, "I expected it to be down at least a week. It was very surprising how quickly they got it repaired and resumed travel because I know traffic was backed up for miles."

These men say they were just doing their job, but for people who depend on the Interstate, they worked a miracle.

West Virginia Paving shut down for the season the first week of December.

They called those employees in to work on their off time the night of the explosion.

Rodabaugh said he had pavers contacting him from across West Virginia asking if they could help with the job.