Rockslide closes major highway in Blowing Rock; No timeline on opening

BLOWING ROCK, N.C. — Thursday’s storms caused a rockslide that closed a major highway in Blowing Rock.

All lanes of Highway 321 from Green Park Inn to BlackBerry Road are closed, and Channel 9′s Dave Faherty was told the highway won’t reopen on Friday. At last update, it was expected to remain closed through Wednesday.

More than 10,000 cars use that stretch of Highway 321 every day.

The NCDOT says that section of the hillside must be taken down before it can reopen. The closure is causing major traffic delays for people traveling to Blowing Rock and Boone.

Faherty spoke with some of the drivers on their morning commute.

“Well, I have not been able to get to work. I was supposed to be there at 7,” said Lisa Sutherlin. “But I guess I’m going back home for a little bit.”

City leaders said it’s not a large rockslide, but there’s concern about the mountainside.

“When that huge rock up there, it looks like the size of a small house,” said Brian Lambert, a resident of the area. “When that thing comes loose, it’s gonna be bad for whoever is below it.”

Drivers could use BlackBerry Road Friday morning, but officials closed it after three tractor-trailers were jackknifed.

A geotechnical engineer with the NCDOT has climbed the slide area. All of the rock will have to be removed because of safety concerns for the public.

As of noon on Friday, a contractor was assessing how long it would take to clear the rock.

The slide happened on private property below a large house that was built 20 years ago. The owners were not at home when it happened.

A building inspector has assessed the home, and is requiring a structural engineer to inspect it. A structural engineer and geotechnical engineer will be on site Saturday.

The NCDOT is confirming to Channel 9 that in 2006, another slide in the same area shut down the road for several days. They shared these detours for drivers:

• From Boone, take U.S. 421 South to Wilkesboro

• Take N.C. 16 South to N.C. 18

• Take N.C. 18 South to Lenoir

• Take U.S. 64 West/N.C. 18 South to Morganton

• Take N.C. 181 North to Pineola

• Take U.S. 221 North to Linville to N.C. 105

This is a developing story. Check back with wsoctv.com for updates.

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