A section of Highway 70N in Hawkins County is closed indefinitely due to a major slide that occurred early Thursday morning. The slide, which happened between 1:00 a.m. and 3:00 a.m. on February 21, 2019, claimed the life of one motorist and injured one other.
Highway 70N will be closed between State Route 94 and Clinch Valley Road, and a detour will be in place while mitigation work is underway.
Detours are as follows.
From SR 70 in Rogersville:
Take SR 1 South (US 11W) to SR 31 North in Mooresburg, then SR 33 North to SR 70 North
From SR 70 in Kyles Ford:
Take SR 33 South to SR 31 South in Sneedville, then SR 1 (US 11W) in North Mooresburg to SR 70 North in Rogersville
During the closure, all traffic will be detoured. Message boards are already in place near the slide to alert motorists to the closure. Drivers, especially those in Hankcock and Hawkins Counties, are advised to plan ahead.
Commissioner Clay Bright, along with other TDOT staff, and state and local officials, toured the slide earlier today.
“We first want to express our deepest condolences to the family and friends of the man who lost his life early Thursday morning,” Bright said. “TDOT staff is working around the clock to develop a set of design plans to address this large slide. We plan to have an emergency contract in place by the end of next week, and will make every effort to reopen Highway 70 North as quickly as we can safely do so.”
With additional rain forecast over the next few days, there is a possibility of additional soil movement and a potential for the slide to grow in size. The overall instability of the area will prevent TDOT from maintaining a lane of travel until repairs can be completed. A completion date for the repairs will be available once an emergency contract has been awarded.
Slides and Rockfalls in Tennessee
· Because of the geological and soil conditions, as well as general terrain, slides and rockfalls are common in Middle and East Tennessee.
· Common triggers for slides and rockfalls are extended periods of wet weather and/or the freezing and thawing of water, and they typically occur in winter and early spring.
· Potential slides and rockfalls are nearly impossible to predict with any accuracy.
· TDOT budgets $3 million annually to address rockfall and slide issues, and often seeks federal disaster assistance to assist in covering the cost of major slides or rockfalls.
· Nine slides have impacted state highways in parts of East Tennessee since February 4, 2019.
Motorists can get real-time travel information and traffic conditions online at www.TNSmartWay.com/Traffic or by dialing 511 from any landline or cellular phone.
Compliments to TDOT (Tennessee Department Of Transportation)
Update: It is estimated to cost $8.7 Million to repair this highway.
Update 2: The Tennessee Department of Transportation on Friday, March 1, 2019, awarded an emergency contract to repair this mudslide to Charles Blalock & Sons, Inc., at a cost of $8.7 million. TDOT said the contract includes the building of a large rock buttress and soil nails to stabilize the slope. The project is scheduled to be completed on or before August 15, 2019, weather permitting.