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Elliston's Reece Mountain Road caught in runoff

By Orlando Salinas, osalinas@wdbj7.com
Published On: Jul 31 2013 06:04:12 PM EDT
Updated On: Jul 31 2013 06:25:57 PM EDT

Some families who live in Montgomery County say a contractor's been mining for years and that's made the ground unstable. When it rains, they say their only road is unsafe.

MONTGOMERY CO., Va. -

In Elliston, right in Montgomery County, families say a contractor's been mining shale for years and that project has made the ground unstable.

When it rains, they say their only road is unsafe. So we drove to Reece Mountain Road, just off the Ironto exit. We saw a big logging truck barely get by the deep ruts on the roadside.

"Our biggest problem now is a water problem" said Jack Wimmer.

Jack told me he grew up on Fort Lewis Mountain. Years ago, Wimmer said, a contractor began mining for shale on the mountain. Since then he says the ground's become unstable and nearly every time it rains, the sediment builds up until it rolls over the only road on and off the mountain.

"Well as soon as it fills up," said Wimmer, "all the water pushes through down here on the side of the road over into the ditch and forces the water across the road."

Wimmer told me that he's maintained that stretch of Reece Mountain Road for 20 years, but at 79, he's moving a lot slower and can't do that anymore.

State, county and local officials have been asked to help keep the road from caving in. The Virginia Department of Transportation said it built the road decades ago, because law required it provide a way in and out for landowners, but the state's obligation to maintain that private road ended there.

We found Carol Martin sitting in her Dodge truck, watching loggers work up the road. Martin said she knows about the runoff problem and county officials have told her a solution's on the way.

"Well they're going to trench it somewhere. And what would that do? Well that will give it a place to drain and then it, the sediment will get out of it in the process and it will go onto the Roanoke River," Martin said.

Until there's a fix, this half mountain will keep spilling over when it rains, and Jack Wimmer will keep fixing what he can.

"There are several families that live back here, we just trying to keep the road passable," Wimmer said.