Rockin’ & Rolling

[p]Since moving to Western North Carolina there has been a subtle movement that has taken place, a bit of jive you may say.  Fact is time and time again the earth has been rockin and rolling all around me.  While living in Boone, I rarely paid attention to the sporadic closing of Hwy 321.  It could be freakish weather, fog, construction or a rock slide but everyone had a tale.   After moving further southwest in NC along the I-40 corridor, there have been a series of rock slides that have interrupted traffic, the economy and peace of mind for travelers.[/p]

[p]The first rock slide that I became aware of was in October of 2009.  At the North Carolina-Tennessee border, this was the Big One, 200 feet long at least 80 wide and 160 feet tall; with boulders the size of a garage.  Fortunately no one was hurt during the rock slide but the same cannot be said about everyone else.  The slide closed I-40 for months, adding a 53 mile detour for anyone travelling east or west bound and costs over $12 million to clean up the slide.  Not to mention the shortage of business for restaurants, attractions and lodging; the economic damage probably will never be known.[/p]

[p]What happened?  Engineers and geologists say wetter than normal conditions combined with early freeze-thaw cycles contributed to the slide.  How did they fix it?  Drills mounted on semi-trucks, blasting the big pieces into more manageable sized pieces and living out every young boy’s childhood Tonka dreams; With Really Big Toys.  After removing the debris, engineers recommended the rock face be drilled and anchored with 509 bolts to brace from future movement.  The only bad thing was not being able to see it all happen.[/p]


Since the Big One, there have been numerous small slides that have closed portions of roads in the area. Late January had a slide that shut down I-40 and another slide compacted things a week later.  Seems to me, the earth is moving all around and we slowly learn who is boss after all.  As long as no one is hurt, the walls can rock and roll all they want.


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