SYLVA, N.C. — Crews will take a little longer to complete repairs on I-40 in North Carolina after a February rockslide.

The entire interstate was closed for nearly a week when a wall of rock and debris fell onto the interstate at the 7.5 milemarker near the Tennessee state line. The road has been down to one lane in that area ever since.

Originally, the N.C. Department of Transportation hoped the work would be complete by April 4, but they have extended the project for another month for further work that could prevent future slides.

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“The benefits of performing these additional repairs should pay off in the long run,” NCDOT resident engineer Nathan Tanner said. “It’s wise to perform this additional work now while we have the opportunity. The extra repairs should help keep traffic moving through the Pigeon River Gorge for a long time instead of reducing lanes again at a later date.”

Engineers are now targeting the weekend of May 3 as the new date to reopen all four lanes to through traffic near mile marker 7. Traffic has been reduced to one lane heading in each direction since Feb. 28.

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The cleanup and repairs have included removing more than 10,000 tons of debris, installing rock anchors, hanging wire mesh and building a retaining wall. Additional repairs include additional scraping of rock, more anchors, and expanding the area covered by wire mesh.

“Everybody has been working long days and with the weather turning, long weeks,” Tanner said. “We’ll continue that effort until we’re able to safely open up the interstate.”