It has been a dangerous few days on the roads in Middle Tennessee after a pair of busy roads were closed due to rockslides.
The first happened Tuesday morning along State Route 840 in Williamson County, and the second was Friday evening on Interstate 65 in Madison.
State engineers blame the wild summer weather for causing the slides, but there might be more to the problem.
"Yes, we do anticipate more of them. It's the nature of owning a statewide transportation system," said Paul Degges, chief engineer for the Tennessee Department of Transportation.
The risk of rockslides comes with the job, but for the man in charge of engineering for TDOT, the problem this year seems worse.
"We've got facilities that have been around since 1919, so you know, you'll see failures from time to time," Degges said.
In addition to the rockslides, sinkholes have formed in Dickson and Fairview, swallowing a car and part of Dean Parker's yard.
"About a 9-foot in diameter hole. About 50 feet deep," Parker said.
Experts said the blame falls on the weather, but not just this summer's record-setting heat. This problem dates back months.
"Well, anytime you have weather extremes - whether it's heavy snowfall, heavy rain, extreme droughts - you know, it has an impact," Degges said. "We know they're going to happen in places, and we try to be proactive."
The state spends about $4 million a year on maintenance, trying to prevent - or at least, manage the risk - of rockslides.
"We estimate the value of the state highway system at about $15.5 billion. So we're trying to do everything we can to maintain that investment to the highest level possible," Degges said.
And despite every preparation, the rockslides and sinkholes will probably happen again. They are both inconvenient and unpredictable, and that's unsettling for some.
"You know, if this fell in so quick, what could happen on up the road?" Parker said.
Copyright WSMV 2012 (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
Monday, June 17 2013 1:04 PM EDT2013-06-17 17:04:34 GMT
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