ASHEVILLE — Debris from a rockslide has closed both directions of traffic on Interstate 40 near the Tennessee state line at least through Friday night.
Westbound lanes toward Tennessee are closed at U.S. 276 exit, mile marker 20. Eastbound lanes toward Asheville are closed at the Harmon Den exit, mile marker 7.
The detour directs traffic westbound back to Asheville on I-40. Drivers should then take I-240 East to I-26 West into Tennessee, then I-81 South back to I-40. Eastbound traffic should follow in reverse: I-40 to I-81 to I-26 to I-40.
The route from I-40 Exit 20 near Waynesville through Asheville into Johnson City and down to I-40 is approximately 160 miles. The entire detour from closure to closure is nearly 200 miles
The slide occurred about 7:30 p.m. on Friday when an estimated load of two dump truck loads of rocks fell from atop the slope and bounced into the westbound lanes. Later in the evening, smaller rocks ricocheted over the median necessitating the closure of eastbound lanes.
“There’s no way to safely open I-40 tonight,” Division 14 Maintenance Engineer Wesley Grindstaff said. “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.”
GeoTechnical experts will be on location at sunrise to assess the stability of the slope and the condition of the interstate.