Slips Isolate Small Town

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Getting to the tiny Ohio River town of Hockingport is no easy task these days.

The Ohio Department of Transportation has closed sections of the only two state highways leading to it because the soil supporting the roads washed away.

Usually, high water in the Ohio River supports the banks.

But a 42-mile stretch between two dams had low water for nearly two weeks while salvage crews removed three runaway barges that had twisted themselves around the Belleville Lock and Dam, jamming it open.

The state has closed two sections of state Route 144 and two sections of state Route 124 until at least March while it does emergency repairs.

One four-thousand foot stretch has cracks nearly five feet deep.

The closures leave Hockingport residents in a bind. The community is so small it doesn't appear in U.S. Census data, and there are no other state routes between the two closed sections.

Crews finally removed the barges last Monday, and water levels are back to normal, which is a relief to residents on both the Ohio and West Virginia sides of the river.