Haywood County (WLOS) — Cleaning a rockslide on Interstate 40 in Haywood County will require the N.C. Department of Transportation to keep the interstate closed for about a week for the safety of contract workers and those who would be driving in the area, the DOT said Saturday.
I-40 is closed in both directions near the Tennessee state line at Exit 7, Cold Springs Creek Road, due to a rockslide.
“For everybody’s safety — drivers, workers, contractors — we need to keep the road closed for about a week,” Division 14 Engineer Brian Burch said. “At that point, we anticipate having enough material down the mountain that we can restore one lane of traffic in each direction.”
Drivers will need to allow extra travel time. The detour route uses I-40, I-240, I-26, and I-81 through Asheville and Johnson City. The distance from Asheville to the I-40/I-81 junction in Tennessee is about 50 miles longer than driving through the Pigeon River Gorge.
Westbound detour: Motorists should take I-240 West to Exit 4-A to I-26 West. Follow I-26 West to I-81 South. Then follow I-81 South to reaccess I-40.
Eastbound detour: Motorists should take Exit 421 to I-81 North. Follow I-81 North to Exit 57A (I-26 East). On I-26 East, follow signs for I-240 East to reaccess I-40.
A slide Friday night, Feb. 22, at Mile Marker 7.5 closed I-40 at the state line for westbound traffic, and at Exit 20 for eastbound traffic on. Debris is still falling Saturday as geotechnical experts surveyed the mountainside.
Engineers determined that work is required to stabilize the 500-foot wide area near Hurricane Creek.
NCDOT has awarded an emergency contract to Harrison Construction as part of another contract to improve I-40 later this spring. Crews will be on location Saturday afternoon.
In order to safely execute that contract, traffic will be limited to one lane in each direction — on the eastbound side of a concrete median — for an additional four to six weeks.
Preliminary plans include removing approximately 27,000 cubic yards of dirt, rock and other debris, followed by the installation of preventative measures such as a netting or catchment fence. GeoTechnical experts will help develop the detailed plans.