AP NEWS

NCDOT engineer: Record rainfall to blame for landslides

February 26, 2019
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This Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019, photo provided by the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) shows debris falling after a landslide covered the westbound lanes of Interstate 40 in Haywood County, N.C., near the Tennessee State line. Landslides have closed portions of highways in western North Carolina. (David Uchiyama/NCDOT via AP)

WAYNESVILLE, N.C. (AP) — A North Carolina Department of Transportation engineer says the rockslide that closed Interstate 40 near the Tennessee line was caused by a natural event of historic proportions.

Regional geological engineer Jody Kuhne tells WLOS-TV when his phone rang at an unusual time Friday, he told his wife: “Something happened, and it’s likely that it’s on I-40.”

Kuhne says record rainfall means the area hasn’t seen this much sustained groundwater and surface water increase since civil engineering projects began.

Kuhne says the rainfall is likely responsible for a record number of rockslides and landslides across western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee, but Interstate 40 is the biggest priority because of its economic impact.

NCDOT says lanes could reopen Friday, although it could take up to eight weeks to reopen the entire road.

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Information from: WLOS-TV, http://www.wlos.com/