Crews work around the clock on rockslide cleanup - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Crews work around the clock on rockslide cleanup

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Story by Megan Boatwright
Eyewitness News Reporter

GRUNDY COUNTY, TN. (WRCB)-- It's an inconvenience for drivers in Grundy County.

Crews are working hard to clear a rockslide between Viola and Altamont.

Officials with the Tennessee Department of Transportation say 23,000 tons of rock crashed onto Highway 108 early Sunday morning.

Both lanes of traffic are blocked and it could be three weeks before the road is cleared.

The state hired a contracting company out of Charleston, Tennessee to bring in the equipment to break up the rock.

They came in Sunday night, worked overnight, and we're told they'll be working around the clock until the job is done.

"There's a lot bigger rocks on the other side than the one on this side. Looks like half the mountain is on the road down there," says Carlos Norris.

Crews are slowly chipping away at the huge mounds of rock stuck on Highway 108 Monday, key word: "slowly".

"Several large boulders down there, some of them weighing as much as 2,000 tons and we're breaking them down into smaller pieces so we can handle it and get it out of the road," says T-DOT Manager Ken Flynn.

After that, explosives will be brought in to blast away the heaviest piece of what locals call 'hanging rock'.

"It's mostly everybody has to go to McMinnville or Manchester from the mountain to work," says Norris.

Carlos Norris says getting down the mountain to Wal-mart will be a challenge.

"Either Pelham or around through Beersheba Springs, either way it's going to add an extra 30 minutes at least or more to their drive," says Norris.

For the time being, Altamont residents will have to detour through Highway 50, Highway 56 and Interstate 24 depending on where they're headed.

Either way it's a long haul.

"It's pretty rough on people for that amount of time, that's quite a lot of money out of their pockets for gas," says Norris.

According to T-DOT, about 2,300 cars travel up and down Highway 108 everyday, most of the traffic headed towards McMinnville or Manchester.

Until this job is done, those people will have a 15-25 mile detour.

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