The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) has issued this special alert
DUE TO A ROCK SLIDE, I-40 IS CLOSED IN BOTH DIRECTIONS BETWEEN EXIT 20 (U.S. 276), 24 MILES WEST OF ASHEVILLE, IN NORTH CAROLINA AND EXIT 421 ( I-81 INTERCHANGE), EAST OF KNOXVILLE IN TENNESSEE
Travelers can still reach Western North Carolina.
Both directions of I-40 are closed between Exit 20, West of Asheville in North Carolina, and Exit 421 (I-81 Interchange) East of Knoxville in Tennessee due to a rock slide at mile marker 2.6 on I-40 in North Carolina. The road is not expected to reopen for several months.
Official Detour: Motorists traveling on I-40 West are advised to take Exit 53B, I-240 West. Follow I-240 West to Exit 4A, I-26 West. Follow I-26 West (a North Carolina Scenic Highway) to I-81 South. Take I-81 South and follow back to I-40, Mile Marker 421, in
Tennessee. This route is 53 miles longer than I-40.
Motorists can access Asheville via I-40 from the east and I-26 to the north and south. Exits 20 and 27 on I-40 provide access to popular destinations west of Asheville.
In Tennessee, Exits 432 through 451 are open to local traffic.
Map showing detour info
The Blue Ridge Parkway remains closed, due to impassable conditions and debris covering roads. The National Park Service is working on removal of downed trees but the damage is extensive.
One of our readers visited property along the Virginia-North Carolina border on January 14th and 15th. These photos explain what she encountered when she ventured near the Parkway.
This photo is of the parkway itself. Yes, that is a paved road!
Taken at sunrise, and with Pilot Mountain on the horizon, the next photo explains why the Blue Ridge Parkway draws so many travelers each year: these ancient mountains are breath-takingly beautiful.
Photos courtesy of Kathleen Simms, outdoor enthusiast and mountain lover.
The following is an advisory issued by the National Park Service
Due to recent severe winter storms and heavy accumulations of snow and ice, as well as downed trees, the majority of the Blue Ridge Parkway is closed. While many sections of the Parkway are gated closed at this time, motorists should be aware that it is not physically possible to gate many hazardous sections of the Parkway.
North Carolina counties of Alleghany, Ashe, and Wilkes, and Virginia counties of Franklin, Floyd, Patrick, Carroll and Grayson all have sections which are NOT gated and extremely hazardous or, in fact, impassable due to snow, ice and downed trees. When major accumulations of snow, ice or other road hazards such as downed trees and tree limbs are present, it often takes Parkway personnel several weeks to clear the road, especially at higher evaluations where snow pack is deeper and cooler temperatures impede the melting of snow and ice accumulations. In road sections with tunnels or north facing cliffs, the closures may last longer due to heavy ice accumulations and limited exposure to warm air.
The following road closures are due to heavy accumulations of snow and ice:
- Closed at Milepost 1 at Interstate 64 at Rockfish Gap to Milepost 85 at Peaks of Otter Developed Area. This area is only accessible via VA State Route 43 from Bedford or Buchanan.
- Closed at Milepost 91 at Bearwallow Gap to Milepost 106 at US Route 460.
- Closed at Milepost 106 at US Route 460 to Milepost 122 at US Route 220. Crews are working to open this section in the Roanoke area.
- Closed at Milepost 122 at US Route 220 to Milepost 136 at Adney Gap.
- Closed at Milepost 234 at Deep Gap to Milepost 242 at Ice Rock.
- Closed at Milepost 285 at Bamboo Gap to Milepost 288 at Aho Gap.
- Closed at Milepost 290 at the Thunder Hill Parking Overlook to Milepost 291 at US Routes 321/221.
- Open at Bass Lake from US Route 221 outside of Blowing Rock.
- Closed at Milepost 294.5 at the Sandy Flats Maintenance Area to Milepost 296.
- Closed at Milepost 298 at Holloway Mountain Road to Milepost 382, just outside of Asheville.
- Open from US Hwy. 70 at Milepost 382 to the Folk Art Center. Park Headquarters and the Visitor Center at Milepost 385 are open from US Hwy. 74. Crews are working to open the Parkway from Milepost 382 to Milepost 388 at US Hwy. 25.
- Closed at Milepost 388 to Milepost 469 at Cherokee.
The following sections of the Parkway are closed but accessible to private driveways. Travel is extremely hazardous and at the risk of the traveler:
- Milepost 136 at Adney Gap to Milepost 234 at Deep Gap.
- Milepost 242 at Ice Rock to Milepost 285 at Bamboo Gap.
- Milepost 288 at Aho Gap to Milepost 290 at the Thunder Hill Parking Overlook.
- Milepost 291 at US Routes 321/221 to Milepost 294.5 at the Sandy Flats Maintenance Area.
- Milepost 296 to Milepost 298 at Holloway Mountain Road.
Areas of road closure may still be used by pedestrians, including skiers and bicyclists, in compliance with park regulations. The closure at Milepost 400 remains completely closed to all access.
It should be noted that all closed sections of the Parkway that remain accessible via state roads, and any travel on uncleared or unplowed sections of the motor road, present extremely hazardous driving conditions and should be avoided. Visitors who drive in the closed sections of the Parkway travel at their own risk and may be subject to fines and/or citations from Park Law Enforcement Rangers.
North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) has released further information about progress crews are making with boulder removal on a stretch of I-40 in North Carolina near the Tennessee border.
See related article with map: https://carolinalifestyles.wordpress.com/2009/11/18/haywood-county-rock-slide/
Workers from subcontractor Janod Construction Thursday drilled on the rock face for a blast that may take place late next week.
Crews manned two drills along the face of the large rock mass along the slope. They are working back up the slope toward a natural plane (rock seam) where workers will eventually put rock bolts to stabilize the slope. This work will continue throughout the weekend and next week until the blast. The next update will be on Dec. 18, unless there is a change.
The overall project will take several months to complete.
Travelers can reach Western North Carolina via I-40 from the east and I-26 to the north and south. Exits 20 and 27 on I-40 provide access to popular destinations west of Asheville. In Tennessee, exits 432 through 451 provide access to popular destinations in southeastern Tennessee.
The detour route is 53 miles longer and takes an additional 45 minutes to an hour driving time. Motorists traveling on I-40 West should take Exit 53B (I-240 West) in Asheville and follow I-240 West to Exit 4A (I-26 West). Follow I-26 West (a North Carolina Scenic Highway) to I-81 South in Tennessee. Take I-81 South and follow it back to I-40 at mile marker 421. Eastbound motorists should use the reverse directions.
Additionally, travelers cannot take U.S. 64 from North Carolina into Tennessee due to a separate rockslide that blocked the highway near the Ocoee 2 Dam in Polk County, Tenn., about eight miles west of North Carolina. U.S. 64 will be closed for several months. Motorists are advised to take U.S. 74 to Tennessee 68 North at Ducktown through McMinn County, then onto I-75 at Sweetwater in Monroe County.
NCDOT reminds motorists to stay alert, follow instructions on highway message boards, obey the posted speed limit, leave early and travel at non-peak times when possible. Plan ahead before driving by visiting the NCDOT Traveler Information Management System Web site at www.ncdot.gov/traffictravel/ or calling 511, the state’s free travel information line, for current travel conditions.
UPDATE 17 December 2009
NC’s Department of Transportation has announced that blasting on US Hwy 321 N, near Blowing Rock, NC, will be discontinued until January 5th. That means the highway will be open through the holidays.
Road work on the highway typically means that the road is closed from 12 noon to 2 pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays, with additional closure on Monday nights, for blasting work.
On December 7th, State DOT Engineers closed US Highwy 321 N between Lenoir and Blowing Rock, as they worked on removing boulders dislodged after blasting that week. The boulders appeared perilously unstable.
The closure meant all traffic heading into Blowing Rock and Boone had to be re-routed towards Wilkes County. The road was reopened for traffic on December 15th.
From Lenoir, take N.C. 18 into Wilkes County, then take U.S. 421 N to Boone. To reach Blowing Rock, motorists can turn left on N.C. 105 Extension in Boone, then left again on U.S. 321 S to Blowing Rock.
Motorists headed to Lenoir from Blowing Rock and Boone should reverse that detour.
This road widening project is in its fifth year of construction, which has included nearly constant drilling and weekly blasting during phases one and two of the project. Originally slated to be completed in late 2008, the project has met with delays due to rock slides, utility relocation and unanticipated difficulty in removing the mountainside at various locations.
The third phase of the project, which is scheduled to begin in 2010, will widen the road to four lanes through the town of Blowing Rock, and will eventually link up with an existing four-lane section of US Hwy 321.
CarolinaLifestyles is monitoring the situation and will report any change in the closure and/or road work schedule as information is released. (Last update on 12/16/09)