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  1. #1

    Default I-40 closed in western NC/East TN--rock slide just on the Tennessee side

    The westbound lanes of I-40 are closed from Exit 20 in Haywood County, NC through just west of Exit 451 in Tennessee. A rock slide is the reason and closure is estimated to last for two weeks. Eastbound lanes are open and are expected to remain open.

    Through-travelers who are westbound are advised to take I-26 north from Asheville to I-81 at Johnson City, TN, thence I-81 south to Knoxville. Westbound travelers originating at Winston-Salem or points farther east can do better by taking I-73/77 north to Wytheville, VA to pick up I-81, thence south through Bristol to Knoxville.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Why don't they move westbound traffic over to the eastbound side and have a short stretch of single lane each way?

  3. #3

    Default It's a tight squeeze

    Quote Originally Posted by glc View Post
    Why don't they move westbound traffic over to the eastbound side and have a short stretch of single lane each way?
    Hard to say for sure, George, but I guess the following:

    1)The slide occurred this morning.

    2)The first exit west of the blockage is around 3 miles west of the slide, and it's a real oddball configuration, with considerable difficulty getting westbound traffic from eastbound lane back to the westbound lane.

    3)The east and west lanes are side-by-side and separated by Jersey barriers all or virtually all the way between Mile 447 in TN and Mile 15 in NC. Traffic sharing one lane or the other would have to be separated by miles of cones, and I expect the truck traffic + tight curves would have somebody busy full-time just keeping the cones up.

    4)The first real exit back to the east is around 18 miles east, and most if not all of that distance has I-40 perched on a shelf above the Pigeon River gorge. The lanes are separated by Jersey barriers and there are two tunnel sections. The exit at Mile 15 in NC is normally configured, but there'd still be a zig-zag to get traffic off the westbound side and onto the eastbound side.

    5)Combining the lanes fouls up eastbound traffic which would otherwise be unaffected.

    6)Running the extra 53 miles from Asheville might take an extra hour for westbounders. Westbounders from as far back as Winston-Salem might only experience 15 minutes more travel time, if that. Compare that to a miles-long backup east of the switchover point followed by a crawling speed for 20 miles.

    Something of a mess out there, and one with no easy solutions. Come to think of it, just getting the tractor-trailers which had passed the Mile 15 exit westbound off of the blocked highway might be a challenge. I'd guess they'd have to stop eastbound traffic, pull a few sections of Jersey barrier, and let 'em pull a U-turn.


  4. #4

    Default Scheduled re-opening Monday February 6, 2012

    Citing quicker than expected slope stabilization efforts, the Tennessee DOT is now scheduled to re-open the highway on Monday of next week, the 6th.


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