I-40 westbound reopen following rockslide - FOX Carolina 21

I-40 westbound reopens following rockslide

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An early morning rockslide closed the westbound lanes of I-40 on the Tennessee/North Carolina border. (Jan. 31, 2012/FOX Carolina) An early morning rockslide closed the westbound lanes of I-40 on the Tennessee/North Carolina border. (Jan. 31, 2012/FOX Carolina)
ASHEVILLE, NC (AP/FOX Carolina) -

The North Carolina Department of Transportation said the portion of westbound Interstate 40 that was closed due to a rockslide last week is now open.

NCDOT officials said drivers should still expect delays as one of two lanes remains closed near exit 451 in Tennessee for maintenance following the 600-ton rock slide.

Westbound I-40 was closed on Jan. 31 due to the rockslide near exit 451 and a 55-mile detour was created for drivers headed towards Tennessee starting at mile marker 53 in Haywood County.

On Friday, additional rocks slid onto I-40 westbound around noon near mile marker 7.

Traffic wasn't affected because that section of the highway was already closed following a similar incident in Tennessee.

Rockslides in previous years along I-40 have closed the interstate for several weeks and months, including an Oct. 2009 slide that closed the interstate for six months.

Tennessee transportation officials said westbound I-40 traffic near the North Carolina state line will remain constricted to one lane for at least another month. 

One westbound lane was reopened early Sunday after a contractor removed a boulder estimated to weight about 1,500 tons. The huge rock was perched precariously above the highway after mud and rocks slid onto the westbound emergency stopping lane Jan. 31. 

The Tennessee Department of Transportation said in a news release Monday the initial cleanup is done. The second phase will likely begin in late March and involves stabilizing the slope to prevent additional rockslides there. 

TDOT spokeswoman B.J. Doughty said the department hopes to keep one westbound lane open during the more extensive work to come.

Copyright 2012 FOX Carolina (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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