PRT track at WVU closes after Morgantown rockslide

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PRT track at WVU closes after Morgantown rockslide
A maintenance worker at WVU inspects a boulder and wrecked PRT at West Virginia University. (WVU Photo/Greg Ellis)

A rockslide that blocked Monongahela Boulevard and the public rapid transit track in Morgantown, West Virginia, today sent two students to the hospital.

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The highway and transit, also known as the PRT, was struck by boulders that had tumbled off a cliff that overlooks the Monongahela River on the university's Evansdale campus.

Students ride the PRT at West Virginia University between campuses in Morgantown, West Virginia.

To safely remove people from the PRT vehicle, emergency officials needed to remove a large portion of the vehicle, according to a statement by WVU University Relations.

The students were admitted to J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital after the Public Rapid Transit system car they were in was struck during a rockslide, which occurred in Morgantown U.S. 19 between the Engineering and Beechurst Stations Monday afternoon.

The roadway has since reopened in the area between 8th Street and Evansdale Drive, though the PRT will be closed between Beechurst and Engineering tomorrow (Feb. 11).

The PRT will circulate between Walnut and Beechurst, and on a separate loop between Engineering, Towers, and the Health Sciences Center on a normal schedule beginning at 6:30 a.m.

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Buses will run between Beechurst and Engineering Stations, with a pick-up at Life Sciences Building and Evansdale Crossing.

Opened in 1975, the driverless PRT system was a government-funded experiment developed from the Alden staRRcar and built by a consortium led by Boeing Vertol.

Opened three years behind schedule and costing as much as four times more than estimated, the system was yet deemed successful and was expanded in 1978 to include five stations, two maintenance depots, and more than 70 vehicles.

The PRT system suffered its first reported accident in 2016 when two cars collided between its Beechurst and Walnut stations. Six passengers were on board the car, though only two were treated for minor injuries. Service to Walnut station was suspended for several days while the incident was investigated.

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