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KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Interstate 75 south will stay closed until at least Monday, May 21 as crews continue to stabilize a section of rock slope near mile marker 143.
Part of an embankment collapsed in that area on March 8.
I-75 north will have one lane open for approximately three miles, from mile marker 141 to mile marker 144.
"The past couple of weeks they had been working on stabilization and they were building a wall. Part of that wall collapsed overnight between Monday night and Tuesday morning," explained Mark Nagi, spokesman for the Tennessee Department of Transportation.
Crews are constructing a buttress to prevent another slide from occurring in the same spot. The distance from the blacktop to the area below is about 180 feet.
"They're also stabilizing I-75 north at the same time so right now, they're drilling 50-foot soil nails underneath the interstate to stabilize the north side," Nagi said.
Motorists should expect potential long delays and use extreme caution in this area.
Detour for I-75 south: Take Exit 160 in Jellico, follow US 25W to LaFollette and back onto I-75 South at Exit 134 in Caryville.
Wide load detour route for I-75 south: Take Exit 160 in Jellico, turn right and follow SR 297 West to SR 63 and back onto I-75 South at Exit 141.
Suggested Alternate Route for I-75 north: Take Exit 134 in Caryville, follow US 25W to LaFollette and back onto I-75 North at Exit 160 in Jellico.
People living along the State Route 297 detour say they're ready for things to get back to normal.
"It's really noisy, whereas we're fortunate and don't get a lot of that traffic inside the house. But the trucks have picked up in intensity and there has been a lot of traffic," said John Collins, who lives along the route.
He also says he's seen some dangerous activity on the curvy road. "You find a lot of the truck drivers talking on their phones, texting on their phones which I think puts a lot of people in jeopardy."
Collins says speed is an issue, particularly with people who aren't used to the route. "They pick up quite a bit of speed and not knowing what's ahead on Pioneer Mountain, you make a quick turn up there and you're in trouble," he said.
TDOT hopes to have one southbound lane of I-75 open by May 21 and the project completed by the end of September.
Officials recommend that in addition to travelers giving themselves extra time for the detours, they also leave a little more brake room between them and the car in front of them.
6 News Reporter Jessa Lewis contributed to this report.