A recent rockslide on Interstate 75 (I-75) in Campbell County, Tennessee, has caused a heavier-than-usual flow of traffic through both Bell County, and Claiborne County, Tennessee.
The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) has closed a section of I-75 in Campbell County until further notice due to a rockslide. There is no definite date set for the reopening; it could take several weeks, according to officials.
During the closure, all traffic will be detoured, according to TDOT. Message boards are already in place on I-75 to alert motorists to the road closure and drivers are advised to plan ahead and seek alternate routes.
According to David Breeding, director of the Claiborne County Office of Emergency Management, this area’s stretch of road is “not officially part of the detour, except for truck traffic.” However, all traffic has increased and probably will continue to increase until the Interstate is reopened.
“There are a lot of people realizing this way is easier,” he said, adding that signage has been requested for Claiborne County and TDOT should be supplying it soon. “Drivers need to just be patient.”
“We’re dealing with basically the same thing we deal with during Bristol (NASCAR) week,” he said.
On the bright side, businesses along the alternate detour should see an increase in traffic and dollars.
Brooke O’Dell, CEO of the Claiborne County Economic Partnership, said there are hopes that more traffic will mean more people will stop for gas, food and more.
“Our local hotels should have more business as well,” she said. “When people stop they leave money, and each dollar can be multiplied by four for the economic impact.”
Bell County Chamber of Commerce Director Candace Jones said that Middlesboro has seen a definite increase in traffic and they hope to see more.
“We are definitely busier than normal,” she said. “The manager at Cracker Barrel commented that they are seeing people from all over come through who normally would not be in the area. He is having to increase the schedule to accommodate the increased traffic.”
Both chamber directors advised that area businesses should be prepared for the traffic increase throughout the road closure.
Official detours as found on TDOT’s website are as follows:
• Motorist Detours (standard vehicles)
Motorists traveling I-75 South can take Exit 160 (Jellico). Follow US 25W / SR 297 West to SR 63 South, and then re-enter I-75 South.
Motorists traveling I-75 North can take Exit 134 (Caryville/Lafollette). Follow US 25W north to Lafollette, continuing to Jellico, and then re-enter I-75 North.
• Wide-Load and Alternate Motorist Detours
Wide-load traffic traveling I-75 South can take Exit 29 (Corbin) in Kentucky. Follow US 25E into Tennessee, and enter I-81 at Exit 8 (Morristown/White Pine).
Wide-load traffic traveling I-75 North can take I-40 East to I-81 North Exit 8 (Morristown/White Pine). Follow US 25E, and enter I-75 at Exit 29 (Corbin) in Kentucky.
From your desktop or mobile device, you can get the latest construction activity and live streaming SmartWay traffic cameras at www.TNSmartWay.com/Traffic. Travelers can also dial 511 from any landline or cellular phone for travel information, or follow them on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TN511 for statewide travel.
Reach Marisa Anders at 423-254-5588 or on Twitter @newsgirl88.