Weekend of soaking rain leads to rockslide in Roane County

Weekend of soaking rain leads to rockslide in Roane County

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A rockslide in Roane County blocked one lane of traffic on I-40. A rockslide in Roane County blocked one lane of traffic on I-40.

KINGSTON (WATE) - The soaking rains that slogged through East Tennessee over the weekend led to at least one rockslide in the area and if the rain keeps up, more are likely.

In Roane County, one westbound lane of I-40 was blocked at mile marker 343 near Rockwood after a large boulder fell from the hillside.

No one was injured.

TDOT said Monday afternoon that they were bringing in a trackhoe with a rock hammer to break the boulder into smaller pieces so that road crews could remove them.

Concrete barricades will also be put up to catch any loose materials that might fall.

Dr. Robert Hatcher, a geologist at the University of Tennessee, told 6 News if East Tennessee receives more rain later in the week, more rockslides are likely.

"When you get excessive rainfall like we've had this year total and over the weekend, in a very short period of time, we will have some landslides, and that's what's happening right now," he said.

The stretch of I-40 outside of Rockwood and Kingston where the slide occurred sits on a steep slope on the edge of the Cumberland Valley plateau, terrain that's a problem spot for rockslides and landslides.
 
"We've had landslides on all those roads in the last five years," said Dr. Hatcher.

TDOT is keeping an eye on those problem areas, too.

"We know where a lot of troublespots are, looking at Alcoa Highway, looking at parts of Cocke County, obviously we have landslides in Campbell County, so, we'll certainly monitor all the roadways in East Tennessee," said Nagi.

TDOT engineers do not expect anymore rock to fall from the area of I-40 affected by Monday's slide. They hope to have the lane reopened by 9 p.m. Monday.

TDOT is encouraging the public to call their hotline at 1-877-SMARTWAY if drivers encounter any areas that may appear to be unstable. They say many times they hear about rockslides first from motorists.

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