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UPDATED Sun, Jan. 24: 6 p.m.: DOT reports:
A new rockslide occurred on the closed section of Interstate 40 sometime late Friday night or early this morning causing rocks and loose material to cover an additional small section of the westbound lanes.
This section of highway has been closed since the Oct. 25 rockslide. No interstate traffic was traveling on this section of highway when the new rockslide occurred.
The new rockslide occurred at mile marker 6.5 about four miles east of the Oct. 25th rockslide site. It brought down an estimated 500 cubic yards of rock – the equivalent of about 50 dump truck loads – onto the highway. The largest rock was the size of an SUV and the material on the highway covers an area 40 feet long and 50 feet wide.
A construction supervisor for Phillips & Jordan Inc., the contractor working on the project to reopen the highway, discovered the new rockslide at about 1 a.m.
NCDOT engineers and geotech experts are reviewing the new site to prepare a clean-up plan. Initial assessment indicates there may be additional loose rock on the mountainside that will need to be removed. Because rocks from this new slide cover part of I-40, it is unclear if there is damage to the roadway. A few rocks did hit the concrete median between the westbound and eastbound lanes.
Once a contractor has been hired for the work, estimates are that it will take about two to three weeks to clean up the rockslide. Work could begin by the end of next week.
NCDOT still estimates that the interstate could be fully reopened sometime in March depending on weather conditions between now and then. The time needed to clean up the second rockslide should not change that timetable.
NCDOT crews worked today putting rubber mats on the concrete barriers to protect them once the removal of the loose rock starts.
They also set up a plan for managing the construction traffic in the corridor. For about four miles, from mile marker 3 to mile marker 7, construction traffic will follow a two-way pattern in the eastbound lanes to get around the new rockslide area.
WLOS-TV reports: The DOT says there’s been a second rock slide on the roadway, just 4 miles from the slide that shutdown the highway back in October…. Crews estimate it will take about three weeks to cleanup this latest slide.