NASHVILLE (WSMV) - Tennessee Department of Transportation crews have begun working on securing the area and clearing the scene of a massive mudslide on Interstate 24 eastbound north of Nashville.
According to Paul Degges from TDOT, crews are planning to push the material down once they get the ground at the top of the rock formation stable. The goal for TDOT is to stabilize the top area, put blasted rock on the top area, and haul the fallen material out and wasting it.
Degges believes TDOT is very close, if they haven't already, secured the scene but it will require digging down through earth to get to solid rock so they can build and cinch it down so it won't move again.
In a news conference Monday, Degges said approximately 50,000 cubic tons of earth and loose rock fell onto the interstate on Saturday night. Typically, TDOT can only move between 5,000 and 7,000 cubic tons per day. TDOT has an emergency contract with a local company to assist.
"Hopefully by Wednesday we can determine what the duration of closure is going to be," said Deggs.
TDOT said the mudslide is a big impact and has caused a lot of traffic diversion. The maximum traffic backup Monday morning was around three miles. Kentucky DOT has been notified to alert passengers on digital information signs along the way of the closure.
Heavy equipment like excavators and bulldozers were brought in to the top of the rock formation, which reportedly had layers of earth on top. TDOT plans to continue pushing earth and rock off the side of the formation to stabilize further.
Unfortunately, they are working in a constrained working area and a solution to the problem will not come quick. It's a routine fix, but the extra caution is due to the safety risk of workers and passersby on the westbound side. It will be at least a week, and even then they may need more time.
TDOT said there was not a rock failure in the incident, but saturated earth from multiple days of heavy rainfall and not many drying days during the month of February.
TDOT sets aside approximately $20 million in funding each year to fix problems such as this. TDOT is using their own staff, general contractors, and geologists to survey the area using three-dimensional mapping technology. TDOT will continue to do additional flights using drone-mounted equipment.
Degges said the cleanup cost will be determined later as contractors are working on a force account basis. The cost will be based on manpower, equipment, and the amount of land moved. TDOT will then determine if contractors need to be brought in to fix the existing infrastructure later, and will open bidding for potential structural elements as needed.
While the mudslide that occurred Saturday was bad, it was not the worst in the state according to TDOT, however it was one of the largest ones Middle Tennessee has ever experienced.
NASHVILLE (WSMV) - A massive landslide has shut down the eastbound lanes of Interstate 24 north of Nashville around mile marker 42.
TDOT is bringing in two teams of geologists and environmentalists to survey the site for the next few days. There may be some blasting involved to look into the rock wall.
Those who are trying to get to Nashville are being rerouted to Exit 40 (the Old Hickory Boulevard exit) and then back onto Interstate 65 to get into town.
The landslide happened around 10 p.m. Saturday. TDOT said the repairs to the roadway may take at least a week.
News4 spoke with Michael Cothern who has a house on top of the hill and uses the other part of the property for hunting. He said he got a phone call then saw it on the news before coming out to take a look at it for himself.
"I looked on top of the hill and said, I know that's part of my property up there and it's down here on the interstate. That's when I got the call from TDOT people," said Michael Cothern.
Crews plan to bring in equipment to push everything down, from there they'll bring in some heavy rocks to support it and haul the rest off the interstate.
The repairs mean longer commutes for drivers like Kathryn Kniery who works downtown.
"That means an extra 30 minutes. Instead of 5:30, it's 5 a.m. and lots of coffee and maybe a Red Bull," Kniery said.
Kniery was driving home from Ashland City Saturday night when she ran into the landslide. She remembers about a dozen drivers scrambling to figure something out.
"I wasn't that far from it. I didn't see it happen. I came up. I saw it when I got there. I'm flabbergasted," Kniery said.
Phil Dier is another driver already preparing. He had a feeling this might happen with all of the rain.
"It kind of makes sense that it would all come crashing down at some point," Dier said.
He takes his son to school in East Nashville. That means he'll have to get up a little earlier to make it in time.
"We're just going to be taking back roads for however long it takes I guess," Dier said.
No one was hurt.
"While TDOT cannot give a firm estimate for re-opening at this time, the department advises drivers to plan for the closure to be in place at least a week. Once a repair schedule is confirmed, TDOT will provide updated information," said TDOT.