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Landslide closes I-40 in Haywood County, NC

Some big news this week as a rock slide at Interstate 40 just inside North Carolina near the Tennessee line has closed the highway indefinitely.

The rock side occurred at around 2 am on Sunday, October 25th. Two vehicles and an 18 wheeler were damaged as a result but fortunately no major injuries or fatalities were reported.

Story: Rock slide forces closure of I-40 in Haywood County --WSPA

NCDOT immediately issued a detour for Interstate traffic. The official detour is:

Motorists traveling on I-40 West are advised to take I-240 West, Exit 53B. Follow I-240 West to Exit 4A, I-26 West. Follow I-26 West (a North Carolina Scenic Highway) to I-81 South. Take I-81 South and follow back to I-40, Mile Marker 421, in Tennessee. This route is 53 miles longer than I-40.

Those coming from Tennessee into North Carolina are advised to follow the same route but in reverse.

Another alternative for travelers to/from Winston-Salem, NC and points East
.

From Winston-Salem. Take US 52 North to I-74 West (To I-77) in Mt. Airy. Follow I-74 West to I-77 North. Take I-77 North into Virginia and I-81 in Wytheville. From there, I-81 South from Wytheville to I-40 West near Knoxville.

If you are heading from Tennessee, follow the directions in reverse.

This route (minus stops) will only add about 10-15 minutes to your trip.

NCDOT has traveler updates available here.

Removal of the debris and temporary reconstruction could take three months if not longer. The rock slide was triggered at the top of a hillside most likely triggered by decades worth of freezes and thaws on the landscape.

The removal process will first clear rocks from the bottom (I-40 pavement) and middle areas of the slide. This will also include some blasting of large boulders - some the side of small homes. These small rocks and other fill will be used to construct a ramp that will allow heavy equipment by way of a pulley system to the top of the slide. Once that is done, the equipment will remove the boulders from the top of the slide to the bottom.

After that is completed, temporary pavement will be placed on the highway, and I-40 will be re-opened. Permanent pavement along with reconstruction of a retaining wall and other safety walls will continue in the spring. Improving safety features and strengthening of the hillside will most certainly be an ongoing process.

Story: Engineers develop plan to clear I-40 rock slide ---WRAL-TV

There are already concerns that the clean-up and closure could take longer than three months. A definite timetable has yet to be established by the DOT. In addition, winter is forthcoming and depending on how much freeze/thaw, snow or ice, and other factors could trigger more slides further delaying the process.

Story: Clearing rock slide could take longer than expected ---WRAL-TV

Be sure to follow the Asheville Citizen-Times for updated coverage on the rock slide.

Interstate 40 through this area of North Carolina is very rugged and is one of the most dangerous and damage-prone stretches of Interstate within North Carolina, and the entire interstate system.

In July 1997, a rock slide closed the Interstate for three months. In 2004, as a result of Hurricane Ivan, nearly 150 feet of eastbound I-40 eroded into the Pigeon River closing the highway for months. Another slide in 1985 closed the Interstate for nine months.

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