The stretch of I-40 near the North Carolina/ Tennessee border that has been closed down since October 25, 2009, finally re-opened (ahead of schedule!) on April 25, 2010! The closing has caused quite a hassle in transportation, as a 140 mile detour was recommended for those trying to get through! We have people call nearly every week asking if the interstate is still closed, and what is the best way to get to Gatlinburg.
Thankfully, no one witnessed (and therefore no one was crushed by) the rockslide that caused the closing when it occurred. However several mororists came up to it rather suddenly when, to their surprise, they found a huge slide of rock and debris from the hill side covering the road. Some of the rocks were reported to be the size of a large garage!
Major work has been done, clearing and repairing the road. The project’s total cost is estimated to be $12.9 million, with about 80% of the cost to be reimbursed by the federal government. There is still some work to be done, including installing 31 more rock bolts in the mountain, putting traffic control plans in place, and installing a ring net fence to protect drivers from loose rocks or debris that might tumble from the rockslide site. Work will continue through the summer, though the interstate did open for use on April 25. Both eastbound lanes are open, but a three mile stretch of one of the two westbound lanes will remained blocked off until the project is completed.
But to make things clear, travel has now resumed in both directions as of April 25! Happy traveling!
For more information about the 1-40 closure, visit the North Carolina Department of Transportation’s Website. For more information about current road conditions and closures in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, call 865-436-1200.
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