FLOYD COUNTY, Ky. (WTVQ) – Ky Transportation Cabinet officials say two rocks towered precariously over the eastbound lanes of KY 80 near Martin.
On Friday, August 23, Eddie Combs and Josh Compton, highway technician assistants, with engineers Matthew Moore and Darold Slone, rode a side by side to the top of the cut, then climbed the hill on foot, according to officials.
They say they carried 45-pound hydraulic bottle jacks, wood blocks for cribbing, a mattock, a shovel, a two-way radio, and their determination to get the job done.
Officials tell us three hours later, two large sandstone rocks shattered and fell.
The position of these boulders was caused by a rockfall earlier in the year. One, calculated to be 13 tons, was overhanging the bench, held in place by a much larger rock, estimated to weigh 26 tons.
Three hours after they started, Combs was frustrated. The rocks were nearly straight up and down; the jacks couldn’t catch a bite. They were so close that there was no turning back. “Either those rocks were coming off that hill or we wasn’t coming down,” Combs said. Compton agreed. “No way were we leaving.”
“One rock defied gravity. I walked off a little ways and said, ‘Lord, I don’t know what else to do. You’re gonna have to help us here,’” Combs admitted. “And it was like he directed my attention to a corner where the rock was just barely above the ground. ‘Put your jack over there.’ So I asked Josh what he thought. I asked Darold what he thought. We put a jack at that corner, and that was all it took. I’m gonna tell you straight up, I don’t take no credit for it. The Lord just used us. He let us work at it a little bit, but he got the rocks off that hill.”
Officials say the rocks broke apart, tumbling to the second bench above the roadway, fragments that now pose no danger to traffic.
The total cost was less than $500 for tools and supplies. The labor cost for the entire crew would have been paid regardless of what job they worked that day. The rest of the Minnie crew kept the road closed, dealt with angry motorists, and cleaned up the mess once the rocks fell and shattered.