NC/TN, and never the twain shall meet -- Rockslides!

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NC/TN, and never the twain shall meet -- Rockslides!

Post by dogbane » Thu Nov 12, 2009 9:32 am

As many of you probably know, Interstate 40 near the NC/TN border is closed due to a rockslide that occurred on Sunday, October 25: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/local/ ... 19615.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Image of rockslide:
Image

The official detour route takes you far into the Commonwealth of Virginia before coming back down into Tennessee:
Image

Well, this wouldn't have been an issue for me. Even though I planned a trip to tennessee for the 21st of November, my route was to be US 74 west through Waynesville, Bryson City and Andrews to 74/64 through Murphy, Copper Basin, to Cleveland and beyond.

However:
Rock slide shuts down U.S. 64 through Polk County river gorge

Doh!

There was an initial small slide, which they had just gotten cleared, when:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CUXhjPkG ... r_embedded#" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

"Well, we had one rock in the road, now we have no road. The mountain has came off." -- TNDOT feller.

Can anyone suggest a good alternate route from Asheville, NC to Cleveland, TN without a trip through another state? I was thinking of taking US 129 to US 411. Has anyone traveled that route?
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Re: NC/TN, and never the twain shall meet -- Rockslides!

Post by maldon007 » Thu Nov 12, 2009 9:53 am

Wow... we drive that road at least 4 or 5 times a year (rent a cabin near murphy once or twice a year)... Stoped at that little dam there a few years back :(

I will look at my maps & see if we ever went that way (129 etc.).
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Re: NC/TN, and never the twain shall meet -- Rockslides!

Post by dogbane » Thu Nov 12, 2009 9:56 am

It's a beautiful route, isn't it Maldon? I love traveling through the Nantahala and Ocoee river gorges. I-40 has always made me feel incontinent.

I worry that with all this Ida rain, there will be more slides blocking more roads.
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Re: NC/TN, and never the twain shall meet -- Rockslides!

Post by Necrodamus » Thu Nov 12, 2009 9:58 am

Yeah 74/64 is the route I took to the SE ZS campout in Sept.
I wonder if the New Madrid is waking up again?

Edited to add: Wow a magnitude 4 within the past week!
Edited again: Checked USGS to find it was a 3.4 last Friday

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Re: NC/TN, and never the twain shall meet -- Rockslides!

Post by dogbane » Thu Nov 12, 2009 10:08 am

There are enough faults in the Southern Appalachians that New Madrid doesn't need to be blamed. Check out this earthquake map:
Image
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Re: NC/TN, and never the twain shall meet -- Rockslides!

Post by maldon007 » Thu Nov 12, 2009 10:25 am

Is the slide between ducktown & where 30 hits 64 from the north...? Maybe go up 68 towards tellico (from ducktown/64) then back down 39/315/30 to 64???

Dont think I have ever been that way, but never found marked roads in that area to be bad.






Goforth creek must be near that slide... those slate looking rocks, all sticking out unsupported, always looked a bit precarious.
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Re: NC/TN, and never the twain shall meet -- Rockslides!

Post by dogbane » Thu Nov 12, 2009 1:15 pm

It happened right next to the diversion dam where the rafts are put in, just below where Goforth flows into the Ocoee. I'd say within 200 yards, based on the video.
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Re: NC/TN, and never the twain shall meet -- Rockslides!

Post by dogbane » Thu Nov 12, 2009 3:33 pm

I once drove the National Forest roads from SR 314 to SR30 in a Chevy Cavalier, and they weren't too terrible. I considered trying the gravel road from 68 to 30, but it's quite a bit longer, and who knows what all the recent rains will have done to it. Granted, I'll be in a Silverado, but still, this was supposed to be a quick over-and-back trip and I don't see how that's going to be possible under the circumstances.
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Re: NC/TN, and never the twain shall meet -- Rockslides!

Post by maldon007 » Thu Nov 12, 2009 4:48 pm

Crap, didnt realize it was gravel :(

Seems like a chance it will be cleaned up by your trip, no? Not that I saw that anywhere... just from the size of the mess... if they put some real effort into it anyway.

Hey, sometimes you see some cool stuff taking those back roads :D




Ok, did some mapquest... got 3 hours 20 minutes/169.55 miles, by the original route... But if you head up through knoxville (40/75), its like 3 hrs 30 min (didnt get the miles, better roads may mean a good bit more miles...) But time wise, not so bad!
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Re: NC/TN, and never the twain shall meet -- Rockslides!

Post by dogbane » Thu Nov 12, 2009 7:20 pm

This is making me reconsider the wisdom of having my BOL across a mountain range.
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Re: NC/TN, and never the twain shall meet -- Rockslides!

Post by dogbane » Fri Dec 04, 2009 9:04 am

Here is a good article on the economic impact of the rockslide on the residents of the mountain towns affected by the rockslide:
Chattanooga Times Free Press wrote:Economic 'devastation' in Polk after rock slide

DUCKTOWN, Tenn. -- During this time of year, business should be steady at the Ducktown Copper Inn, but this week the parking lot was barren and the hotel's operator was left with worries about mounting expenses and little revenue.

That worry is shared across the eastern part of Polk County roughly three weeks after a rock slide closed the major east-west route, U.S. Highway 64, that connects the picturesque Blue Ridge Mountains to Cleveland and Chattanooga and other western points.

"It has really wiped us out," said hotel operator Michale Cox. "I never paid attention to how much traffic that road brought until now."

Less than a mile away, gas station owner Keith Roberson estimated his business is down 25 percent since the rock slide. The road closure comes during a time when travel already was slowing, he said.

"Anything that is taken away right now definitely makes it harder," Mr. Roberson said. "And I don't think they are sure they know when the road will be open. I don't think they have moved the first rock."

The impact is spread throughout the area and perhaps most noticed in the tourism industry. Tim Mercier, who owns Mercier Orchards in Blue Ridge, Ga., said his business has been affected.

"We have regular customers that have told us that the alternate routes are just too long," he said. "Thank goodness this didn't happen in October (apple harvest season) or we would have really been in a mess."

CLEARING THE RUBBLE

For now, Tennessee Department of Transportation officials are sticking by their eight-week prediction for clearing the rock slide, which means the road could be open by Jan. 15, but all parties admit that is an estimate based on best-case scenarios.

"We were saying at least eight weeks in the beginning, and that is if we have optimum conditions," said Jennifer Flynn, the TDOT region spokeswoman. "But our main goal is to do the work as quickly and safely as we can."

The estimated 3,000 dump truck-loads of rock atop U.S. 64 has not budged a bit, and the slide debris pile actually may grow before it is cleared, officials said.

This week, TDOT contractors drilled holes into the face of the mountainside. Later they will pack those holes with explosives in an attempt to dislodge more loose rock, Ms. Flynn said.

The effort is complicated by miles of other potential rock slides along U.S. 64, Ms. Flynn said. Workers do not want to set off other slides, nor do they want to damage a nearby Tennessee Valley Authority dam that holds back the Ocoee River, she said.

"That is such a sensitive area," Ms. Flynn said. "We are working right there next to that dam, and it was built in 1912. It's not like you can set off massive blasts. All the work has been small and controlled."

IMPACT ON COMMUTERS

Now that U.S. 64 is closed, eastern Polk County's relative isolation is amplified. There is no quick route from Copperhill and Ducktown to Cleveland and Chattanooga, the principal shopping, health care and employment hubs.

U.S. 64 usually take commuters from Ducktown to Cleveland in about 50 minutes. The two best alternates take more than an hour and 45 minutes. Getting to Chattanooga takes even longer.

Those commutes are a necessity for the roughly 70 percent of the community that travels outside Polk County for work. The area has been without a major employer since Tennessee Copper Co. closed in 1987.

"A whole lot of people work in Chattanooga, and now that's an extra 90 miles away," said McCaysville, Ga., Mayor James Finch. "That is playing havoc with many people's budgets, and with the economy like it is, people weren't bringing home as much money to start with."

Mr. Finch said traffic begins backing up as early as 4 a.m. most days as workers head to jobs in Dalton, Ga., and other points south of McCaysville.

Even retirees are finding it hard to get around, as doctor visits are even farther away and the alternate routes are winding and involve multiple stops.

"I'm upset that I am going to have to go an hour out of my way just to get to the doctor," said Copperhill Mayor Cecil Arp. "We have so many people that are on fixed incomes and drawing retirement. They will not go to Cleveland now because Highway 64 is blocked off."

Among some others, there is outrage.

"What's happened to this community and all the way up to Murphy (N.C.) is an abomination," said retired teacher David Beckler. "I know people that get up at the crack of dawn just to get to work. Can you imagine how many people have literally bought gas into poverty just to get to work every day?"

LONG-TERM IMPACT

Locals assume many of the motorists who navigated scenic Highway 64 either are staying home or finding other routes to the touristy mountain region.

"We are really feeling the effects," Ducktown Mayor James Talley said. "It's really devastated our local economy."

Mr. Talley said he is worried about the impact on local sales tax revenue, as fewer motorists means fewer highway purchases such as gas and food.

Residents say this closure and its financial impact illustrate the need for an alternate road, dubbed Corridor K. That project has been in talks since the 1960s, but it carries a price tag between $500 million and $1 billion, TDOT officials have said.

"Can you imagine if it took you an extra hour just to get to work in the morning and you were still going to the same place?" said gas station owner Mr. Roberson. "Your pay hasn't changed, but it takes you an hour more."

Mr. Mercier hopes that once the road is open again, the tourists come back to his orchard.

"We depend on people coming fairly regularly," he said. "There is a significant number that aren't coming now, but long-term we hope they don't forget about our part of the area."
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Re: NC/TN, and never the twain shall meet -- Rockslides!

Post by dogbane » Wed Dec 30, 2009 6:35 pm

Here's the latest on the U.S. 64 rockslide-

Crews set off a series of explosive charges on Tuesday removing the majority of the remaining unstable rock face on the western side of the main slide area. Mechanical scaling operations, using a mini hoe-ram suspended from a crane platform, worked through Wednesday removing the reminder of loose rocks and debris left from the explosive charges while large hoe-rams worked to break up the boulders that are located on the roadway surface.

The contractor plans to resume hauling material off of the site beginning Saturday and extending into next week. The contractor plans to continue his operations from west to the east and is scheduled to reach the eastern side of the main slide within the next five to ten days.

Updates will be provided as they become available.

Updated: 12/30/09

http://www.tdot.state.tn.us/US64rockslide/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
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Re: NC/TN, and never the twain shall meet -- Rockslides!

Post by dogbane » Tue Feb 16, 2010 3:59 pm

TDOT's update for today:
Here's the latest on the U.S. 64 rockslide-

Important Announcement from Governor Phil Bredesen

Crews continued cleanup work on the roadway surface throughout the weekend by hauling 110 loads (2200 tons) of debris off of the project while mechanics worked to repair the 275 ton crane. On February 15, the contractor performed mechanical scaling operations on the eastern side of the slope using the 275-ton crane and mini ram-hoe while the large ram-hoe was used along the river bank and boat ramp to break up some of the larger boulders from the original slide.

Today, crews set off explosive charges to break up some of the larger boulders on the river bank and drilling crews worked to drill 60 holes on the eastern slope in preparation for blasting operations that are scheduled for either February 17 or 18. Rock bolting crews with Hayward Baker began re-mobilizing equipment and materials today in preparation for rock bolting on the western side of the slope.

Updates will be provided as they become available.

Updated: 02/16/2010


Photos of the U.S. 64 rockslide, refreshed every 12 minutes: http://oxblue.com/pro/open/tdot/us64rockslide" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Check out the time lapse feature.

Alternate route info: http://news.tennesseeanytime.org/node/4592" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
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Re: NC/TN, and never the twain shall meet -- Rockslides!

Post by dogbane » Mon Aug 23, 2010 9:24 am

Another rockslide--this time on US 441 near Cherokee: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2010/0 ... tains.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
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Re: NC/TN, and never the twain shall meet -- Rockslides!

Post by dogbane » Tue Jan 31, 2012 1:33 pm

Another rock slide:
Does this sound familiar?
A rockslide near the North Carolina-Tennessee border has closed Interstate 40, North Carolina transportation officials say.
The same thing happened in late October 2009, and the eastbound lanes of I-40 were closed at the border for more than six months.
This time, it's the westbound lanes, but N.C. officials said Tuesday the latest road-closing rockslide will impact traffic about two weeks. In the meantime, it'll mean plenty of headaches for motorists headed to Tennessee or points farther west on I-40.
The rockslide happened this time on the Tennessee side of the border, near mile marker 451. That's about a mile from the state line.
Following the initial slide, the interstate was cleared, according to the Asheville Citizen-Times, but geologists are worried about a much larger rock that is in jeopardy of falling on the interstate.
"It could fall," TDOT spokesman Ben Price told the Citizen-Times. "It's a very immediate concern."
Tennessee transportation officials say they expect to have the road cleared by Feb. 14. The 2009 rockslide happened on the North Carolina side.
This time, westbound I-40 is closed at Exit 20, which is U.S. 276 in Haywood County. But traffic bound for Tennessee actually should detour in Asheville.
Westbound motorists will need to use this detour until the road is reopened: I-40; to I-240 West (exit 53B in Asheville); to I-26 West (exit 4A); to I-81 South (exit 84); back to I-40. Heavier-than-average traffic can be expected on the Asheville area.

http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2012/0 ... again.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
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Re: NC/TN, and never the twain shall meet -- Rockslides!

Post by maldon007 » Wed Feb 01, 2012 2:25 pm

Image

Doesn't look nearly as bad as that last one... Wonder if they will reinforce the mountainside, like they did at the other site.
Last edited by maldon007 on Fri Feb 03, 2012 9:30 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: NC/TN, and never the twain shall meet -- Rockslides!

Post by williaty » Thu Feb 02, 2012 5:05 am

My experience (posted here on ZS) with the road literally landsliding out from under me was in that general area as well. Obviously a very unstable region!

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Re: NC/TN, and never the twain shall meet -- Rockslides!

Post by dogbane » Thu Feb 02, 2012 2:53 pm

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Re: NC/TN, and never the twain shall meet -- Rockslides!

Post by NoAm » Thu Feb 02, 2012 3:48 pm

Like williaty has experienced, the area here can be gorgeous but quite dangerous. I am glad to see the road will be reopening much sooner than they thought. The last bad slides we experienced in 2010 devastated some of the small businesses that rely on tourist and travel traffic to stay open.
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