RALEIGH – Workers from subcontractor Janod Construction today continued to drill into the rock cliff overhang above the slope in preparation for a trim blast scheduled for Thursday, weather permitting.
The tentative plan is to remove the entire rock formation of the “cliff” nearest the highway. This slab is about 40 feet thick, 80 feet tall and 120 feet long and weighs more than 25,000 tons.
Trim blasting is used to trim off overhanging rock structures. The results of the blast will determine the next course of action as crews work to clear and stabilize the area where the slide took place.
Contractor Phillips & Jordan continued hauling debris from the bottom of the slope. Seventeen trucks hauled approximately 3,500 cubic yards of material – nearly 7,000 tons – from the site to a nearby U.S. Forest Service site east on Interstate 40. The Forest Service and the N.C. Department of Transportation will use the material for future road repair.
The overall project will take several months to complete.
Travelers still can reach Western North Carolina via I-40 from the east and I-26 to the north and south. Exits 20 and 27 on I-40 provide access to popular destinations west of Asheville. In Tennessee, exits 432 through 451 provide access to popular destinations in southeastern Tennessee.
The detour route is 53 miles longer and takes an additional 45 minutes to an hour driving time. Motorists traveling on I-40 West should take Exit 53B (I-240 West) inAsheville 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.
Additionally, travelers cannot take U.S. 64 from North Carolina into Tennessee due to a separate rockslide that blocked the highway near the Ocoee 2 Dam in Polk County, Tenn., about eight miles west of North Carolina. U.S. 64 will be closed for several months. Motorists are advised to take U.S. 74 to Tennessee 68 North at Ducktown through McMinn County, then onto I-75 at Sweetwater in Monroe County.
NCDOT reminds motorists to stay alert, follow instructions on highway message boards, obey the posted speed limit, leave early and travel at non-peak times when possible. Plan ahead before driving by visiting the NCDOT Traveler Information Management System Web site at www.ncdot.gov/traffictravel/ or calling 511, the state’s free travel information line, for current travel conditions.
NCDOT also provides alerts about traffic congestion, construction work and changes to the ferry schedule on Twitter. To access them, visit www.ncdot.gov/travel/twitter/.
For daily rockslide updates, please visit the N.C. Department of Transportation Web site www.ncdot.gov and click on the I-40 rockslide daily news and information section. Interviews and on-site requests should go through the NCDOT Communications Office at (919) 733-2522.