I-40 West closing Monday night going into gorge

Published 10:22 pm Sunday, November 17, 2019

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Detour takes 45 minutes longer from Asheville

A contractor for the N.C. Department of Transportation anticipates closing Interstate 40 west from mile marker 20 to mile marker 15 for up to five days starting at 6:00 p.m. Monday. 

This emergency work on a bridge over Jonathan Creek and White Oak Road is needed due to recent rapid deterioration of the concrete surface. The deterioration has been increasing the possibility for road hazards.

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Drivers desiring to reach points on Interstate 40, west of the closure should take I-40 to Exit 53B (I-240 West) go five miles to Exit 4A (I-26 West) and follow that for 74 miles, crossing into Tennessee. They should then take Exit 8A for I-81 South and continue 57 miles to re-access I-40 near Dandridge, Tenn. 

The detour from Asheville to Dandridge takes about 45 minutes longer than traveling from Asheville through the Pigeon River Gorge. Local residents and emergency response teams will have access to homes in the Jonathan Creek area.

NCDOT officials will post the closure on digital message boards announcing the closure as far away as I-40 in Iredell County, I-26 in Polk County and I-26 in Madison County. Transportation officials in Tennessee and South Carolina will also post messages along I-26 alerting drivers of the closure and the detour.  

“This work needs to be done before the bridge conditions deteriorate heading into winter,” Division 14 maintenance engineer Wesley Grindstaff said earlier this week. “It is unfortunate that we have to close the interstate, but this is the only way to complete the repairs and to do so quickly and safely.”

Prior to this work starting Monday, crews will close the outside lane of the bridge heading east toward Asheville from 6:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. on Friday to complete repairs in that lane.

The $436,500 contract with Buckeye Bridge of Canton calls for crews to use hydro-demolition to remove old concrete from the 53-year-old bridge, and then pour new concrete to complete the repairs. 

Transportation officials advise drivers to plan for needing additional time to travel and follow posted detour signs and digital message boards instead of way-finding apps. 

For real-time travel information, visit DriveNC.gov or follow NCDOT on social media.

Submitted by David Uchiyama