Students tour rock slide site in western N.C.

Posted February 26, 2010 9:44 p.m. EST

— Students studying geology got a first-hand look Friday at the project facing engineers from the North Carolina Department of Transportation along Interstate 40.

Rocks tumbled onto the highway Oct. 25 at mile marker 2.6 in Haywood County, near the Tennessee state line. For four months, crews have worked to remove thousands of tons of boulders and unstable rock from the site of the rock and 590 rock bolts to stabilize the mountainside.

NCDOT Geological Engineer Jody Kuhne led a tour of the site for students from the University of North Carolina at Asheville, Western Carolina University, East Tennessee State University as well as visitors from the N.C. Geological Survey.

“This was chance for them to see how the material they cover in the classroom is applied in the real world,” Kuhne said. “We explained various approaches we might have taken to stabilize the site.”

The rock slide has forced travelers to use a 53-mile detour to and from Tennessee on Interstates 26 and 81.

The DOT plans to have the work complete by late April.