Story by Megan BoatwrightEyewitness News Reporter
GRUNDY COUNTY, TN. (WRCB)-- Crews are working to clear debris from a massive rockslide on Viola Mountain near Altamont.
It happened near milemarker 24 on Highway 108 in Grundy County.
T-DOT tells Eyewitness News the rock bluff slid onto the highway overnight.
The size of the rocks is pretty impressive. It's actually on a huge rockface known as 'Hanging Rock'.
More than once Sunday we heard locals say they knew that rock would fall one day and around midnight Sunday it did.
"A lot of people always said that rock's going to fall," says Mike Lusk.
"We knew it was going to fall, we just didn't know when," says Robert Franklin.
It's a piece of rock Viola Mountain and Altamont locals have seen hundreds of times, but never like this.
"We just had to come see what it looks like," says Lusk.
"Couldn't believe that much of it fell," says Franklin.
Believe it or not, it did. And now it's a big job for the Tennessee Department of Transportation to clean up.
"It's more than our maintenance crews can handle," says T-DOT spokesperson Jennifer Flynn.
T-DOT estimates anywhere between 5,000 to 10,000 tons of sandstone rock fell onto Highway 108, shattering into big, small and sharp pieces.
It took a telephone line down with it and caused serious damage to the road.
"We've got geologists out here on the scene. Their doing assessments and we're going to try to hire an emergency contract to clear the rock," says Flynn.
T-DOT says there are many contributing factors to a rockslide, such as freezing, thawing and rain. But the good news is when 'Hanging Rock' decided to go it wasn't on top of anyone or anything else.
"That's the main thing in my book is no one was hurt. We want to make sure and get the roadway cleared as quickly as we can, but as safely as we can," says Flynn.
T-DOT hopes to have an emergency contract crew on scene Sunday night. They're keeping their fingers crossed, hoping it won't take longer than a week to clean up.
We'll keep you posted. For now that portion of Highway 108 is closed.
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