State News

New rockslide hits closed portion of I-40

Posted January 23, 2010 5:58 p.m. EST
Updated January 24, 2010 7:18 a.m. EST

— North Carolina Department of Transportation officials say a new rockslide in the closed section of Interstate 40, just west of Exit 7 to Harmon’s Den, brought down 50 dump-truck-loads worth of rock.

The agency said Saturday in a news release the rockslide occurred sometime overnight Friday. No one was injured. That section of highway has been closed since the Oct. 25 rockslide.

The agency said a construction supervisor for the contractor working to reopen the interstate discovered it about 1 a.m. Saturday.

The new rockslide occurred about four miles east of the previous one, covering a 40-by-50 foot area. The largest rock was the size of a sport utility vehicle.

Agency officials estimate cleanup will take several weeks. They still project the interstate to fully reopen in March.

Travelers still can reach the area via I-40 from the east and I-26 to the north and south. Exits 20 and 27 on I-40 provide access to tourist destinations west of Asheville. In Tennessee, exits 432 through 451 provide access in southeastern Tennessee.

The DOT says the detour route is 53 miles longer and is an additional 45 minutes to an hour driving time. Motorists traveling on I-40 West should take Exit 53B (I-240 West) in Asheville and follow I-240 West to Exit 4A (I-26 West). Follow I-26 West (a North Carolina Scenic Highway) to I-81 South in Tennessee. Take I-81 South and follow it back to I-40 at mile marker 421. Eastbound motorists should use the reverse directions.