Home > All Mercertown Blog Posts > I-40 Closed at TN/NC Border Due to Massive Rockslide

I-40 Closed at TN/NC Border Due to Massive Rockslide

A rockslide closed I-40 in Western North Carolina, near the Tennessee border, on Sunday.  Engineers say that the slide could take months to clean up, so that traffic can be restored.  A detour has been set up.  Motorists traveling west to Tennessee should take I-40 West to I-240 West in Asheville to I-26 West.  Follow I-26 West from Asheville to I-81 South in Tennessee, back to I-40.  Eastbound motorists will follow the reverse directions.


  1. October 28, 2009 at 10:44 am

    Thanks Jason ! wow what a mess huh?

    • Jason Schaftlein
      October 28, 2009 at 11:45 am

      It’s a crazy mess. Who’s idea was it to put an Interstate there anyway?

    • November 12, 2009 at 8:30 am

      Hey man, I don’t know if you have already heard about it or not??? Another Rock slide in Tn near North Carolina, on I-64, not much of a truck route, but none the less more rock slides. Thought I would let you know if you wanted to post it.

  2. jpdubois
    October 28, 2009 at 9:39 pm

    With a front end loader and two dump trucks I could have this cleared in a few hours.

    • October 30, 2009 at 11:08 am

      JP. their is no way you could justify billing the state 1.89 million for a loader and two dump trucks !!! you wouldnt have near enough to pay all the kickbacks to the officals that wanted to put the road there knowing this would happaned . unless of course you used “”Green Fuel”” and got a grant to build a station near there and it used “”River Power”” and “”Energy saving Lights”” oh yea and all trucks would need clean idle stickers and a twic card to stop there….

      • Big John Kelsey
        November 7, 2009 at 2:22 am

        Wouldn’t you need a “Taco Stand” too? :0)

  3. Kenny Lee
    October 29, 2009 at 2:38 pm

    Jason, I vaguely recall the choice for the route was political in nature. Geologists even told them the area was unstable and recommended another easier route.
    A question though, will the added miles in the detour be reflected in the rates?

    • Jason Schaftlein
      October 30, 2009 at 8:12 am

      I have no guarantees with added miles on rates. I will say that our agents are aware of the issue, and they are approaching customers for added miles.

  4. J.W.West
    October 30, 2009 at 1:58 pm

    Hope we adj the rate for the 133 detour .Just a thought .

  5. chuck shaffer
    October 31, 2009 at 9:44 am

    If I 40’s route was determend by politics it is not alone. I80’s route across WY was also located over country that the locals told the engineers not to go. As some may remember 80 spent more time CLOSED the friet few years than OPEN in the winter.

  6. Big John Kelsey
    November 7, 2009 at 2:16 am

    I guess it’s dumb to point this out cause I’m sure that everybody knows it, but if you are going on I-40 and you are at a point east of Winston-Salem you can use Bus. 40/52/74/77/81 and it’s only 19 miles difference versus the 54 miles from Asheville up 26 to 81 & down. Come to think of it, you can use it the other way too 🙂

  7. Jeff Seabolt
    November 7, 2009 at 10:10 am

    The last time this happened, the Asheville paper ran an article on the gerrymandering that went on to locate the interstate along the Pigeon River instead of following the overland route of US 25-70. It was definitely a political, rather than pragmatic, decision.

    Also, the construction techniques used in the initial construction have much to do with the propensity for slides today:
    That article discusses some of the politics involved in the alignment of the highway and there’s an in depth discussion towards the end as to why these slides are inevitable precisely because of the way in which the road was built, far more so than the nature of the gorge itself.

    As to the “front end loader and two dumps” theory, what makes these things so time-consuming to clean up is that if you start clearing at the roadway itself, the rest of the mountain very quickly winds up on top of your end loader (and its’ hapless operator, to boot). They announced within a day or so that this would have to be a “top down” operation, which complicates the matter significantly (unless, of course, you can attach your end loader to a hot air balloon and get a good flying start at the thing…).

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