Work begins to clear I-40 in western N.C.

Posted October 30, 2009 4:19 p.m. EDT

— Crews hired by the state Department of Transportation began breaking up the boulders blocking a section of Interstate 40 outside Asheville Thursday.

It is the first step to clearing a rock slide that occurred at mile marker 2.6 in Haywood County, near the Tennessee state line, last weekend.

A state spokesperson said the debris is stacked about 150 feet high and 200-300 feet wide on the highway. Drivers who came upon the slide estimated that some rocks were the size of a large garage.

The DOT hired Phillips & Jordan Inc. of Knoxville, Tenn. and rock stabilization specialist Jonad Contractors of Champion, N.Y. to break up and clear the fallen rocks and remove unstable rock from the face of the mountain.

DOT officials said that work would take several weeks. At that time, officials will have a better estimate of when the road will reopen.

While the work is being done, DOT has recommended a nearly 140 mile detour.

  • Westbound travelers should get off I-40 at exit 53B onto Interstate 240 West in Asheville. From I-240 West, take exit 4 A onto Interstate 26 West. Follow I-26 West towards Virginia. Then, get onto Interstate 81 South, which connects to I-40 West at mile marker 421.
  • Eastbound travelers should exit from I-40 onto I-81 North. Take I-81 North, to I-26 East into Asheville. Then, transfer onto I-240 East, which connects to I-40 East.

View Interstate 40 rockslide detour in a larger map