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I-81 Emergency Rockslide Mitigation

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I-81 Emergency Rockslide Mitigation

This new slide was within a half mile of an infamous slide that occurred on I-81 in the 1970’s that covered the graded, unopened interstate with a mountain of debris that took several months to clear while the interstate was being constructed.

Given the possibility of catastrophic failure and the impacts that a multiple month closure of I-81 between Christiansburg and Roanoke could have on the national and local economies, a team of dedicated individuals came together from across VDOT, GeoStabilization International, HDR Engineering Inc., and Radford University to develop the solution. VDOT’s primary focus was to install the solution in a proactive manner before a disaster occurred. With the travel artery’s high traffic counts and freight traffic, the team’s charter was to remediate the site while keeping the interstate open to traffic and the project’s duration as short as possible.

VDOT’s past remediation practices would have involved closing the interstate and diverting traffic while the site was excavated, loose material removed, and buttresses installed.  In this case, those practices were not doable.  Our innovative, out-of-the-box design/process included the use of slope scaling, crane suspended rockfall barriers, site remote monitoring, and the combination of excavation & rock bolting.  The solution’s design was flexible, and allowed our engineering team to adjust the design on-the-fly and meet evolving conditions.


Project Photos


Meet the Team

Matthew “Matt” Reihl, I-81 Emergency Rockslide Mitigation
Matthew “Matt” Reihl
M.E., P.E., Director - Southeastern Region
Sara Magallón, I-81 Emergency Rockslide Mitigation
Sara Magallón
Project Engineer 1
Robert “Rob” Fingerson, I-81 Emergency Rockslide Mitigation
Robert “Rob” Fingerson
P.E., G.E., Project Development Engineer

Featured Employees

Matthew Birchmier, M.S., P.E.,  Vice President of Operations
Matthew Birchmier
M.S., P.E., Vice President of Operations
Matt Williams, P.E., Project Development Engineer, Midwest Region
Matt Williams
P.E., Project Development Engineer, Midwest Region
Chris Johnson, Shotcrete & Drilling Specialist
Chris Johnson
Shotcrete & Drilling Specialist

Meet Our Entire Team