Local News

Rock Slide Woes Continue to Plague I-40

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

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

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 tourismofficials may be too little too late. The busy summer season is coming toan end and many merchants have already lost more than 60 percent of theirprofits in their most profitable months. Now, all their hopes are pinnedon the fall color season.

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

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

Photographer:Mark Copeland