I-40 at Tennessee-N. Carolina line reopens, repairs to take six weeks


I-40 at the Tennessee-North Carolina has partially reopened Thursday with repairs estimated to take over a month.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation announced Wednesday that one lane of I-40 in each direction at the Tennessee-North Carolina state line will be open Thursday beginning at 2 p.m. 

While NCDOT crews say there are concerns about the rain, they are not worried about a possible second landslide on this slope.

There is a concrete barrier between the two lanes of traffic and the speed limit is now set at 45-miles per hour along this stretch of I-40.

“While we’ve had the road closed, we’ve been monitoring any areas that we would’ve maybe considered unstable and everything looks good so far,” said Nathan Tanner, NCDOT Engineer.

NCDOT says drivers should expect delays for the next six weeks while repairs are completed. 

Tanner says NCDOT crews will be putting wire mesh at the top of the slope, horizontal drains at the bottom and they do not believe there will be a need for any kind of catchment fence at the bottom, “It’s just a matter of shaving it back. We’re laying it back on a 1.5-1 slope. Once that material is removed that slope will be there for a long time and it’ll be nice and stable.”

Work is expected to wrap up and I-40 be entirely opened in early April.

“Just be safe, drive slowly and don’t be distracted while you’re driving,” said Tanner.

A rockslide on Saturday at the state line caused the interstate to close. North Carolina Department of Transportation engineers say the rockslide that closed I-40 was caused by record rainfall levels.

The closure has been a frustration for a number of travelers, like Greg and Phyllis Adams, traveling from Cincinnati to Charleston.

“We saw the signs. My wife was sleeping and I didn’t want to bother her. The signs aren’t really that helpful so we just kept going, thinking we’d see a detour sign and the detour sign is where the roads ends,” said Mr. Adams.

Maps with detour routes have been available inside the Tennessee Welcome Center in Cocke County.

“We have done that since the rockslide and folks have been very gracious and wonderful. That’s why we’re here to help tourists,” said Welcome Center Assistant, Carolyn Goosen.

Now that part of I-40 is back open, it’s a relief for tourists, truckers and locals.

“It’s a good thing. The local econpomy is very dependent on the revenue I-40 generates through the middle of Cocke county. We were fortunate that a.) no one was hurt and b.) that it didn’t shut down for months because that’s happened before,” said Newport resident Gary Carver.

NCDOT engineers tell us the damage and repairs is estimated to cost $2.1 million. They’re now working on an erosion control plan handling sediment sites where crews drop earth material from this dumpsite.

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