Damage from rock slide could close I-40 near Asheville for a week

February 23, 2019
Credit: NCDOT

Heavy rain led to a rock slide on Friday, closing a section of Interstate 40 near Asheville, and officials expect the road will be closed for a week.

“To safely clean up a rock slide area about 500 feet wide, I-40 will need to remain closed for about one week,” the DOT tweeted on Saturday. “Then traffic will be restricted to one lane in each direction for six to eight weeks through the Pigeon River Gorge near the state line.”

Both directions of I-40 were closed near Exit 7 for Cold Springs Road after a rock slide occurred around 7:30 p.m.

According to a press release from the DOT, rocks fell from a slope and “bounced” into the westbound lanes. Overnight, smaller rocks fell over the median, closing the eastbound lanes, according to officials. The DOT estimated an estimated load of two dump truck loads of rocks fell onto the highway.

On Friday, maintenance engineer Wesley Grindstaff said, “There’s no way to safely open I-40 tonight. A series of wheel-barrow sized rocks have come down. While our crew were clearing those out of the way, other rocks started coming down too.”

Crews originally expected to reopen I-40 by 4 p.m. Saturday, but the significant damage will require more time.

As a detour, motorists can:

Multiple counties in western North Carolina were under flood watches and warnings and high wind advisories on Saturday. Weather conditions are expected to improve midday Sunday.