Local News

Rock Slide Woes Continue to Plague I-40

Posted August 14, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— The North Carolina Tourism industry is fighting for its life and it has a big mountain to climb. That's because a rock slide has kept a large portion of Interstate-40 closed since July 1, and there's no word when the road will reopen.

The NC Department of Transportation is working hard to clear boulders as big as trucks, understandably a slow process. I-40 is heavily used by tourists.

The rockslide occurred right on the North Carolina-Tennessee border, but mountain destinations up and down the route are suffering.

Businesses owners say an ad campaign planned by state tourism officials may be too little too late. The busy summer season is coming to an end and many merchants have already lost more than 60 percent of their profits in their most profitable months. Now, all their hopes are pinned on the fall color season.

I-40 remains closed west of exit 20, past Asheville. Tourists can still get to the Biltmore Estate, the Blue Ridge Parkway, Maggie Valley and other sites.

Some estimates right now say the damaged stretch of I-40 may not open until October.

Photographer:Mark Copeland