LaFollette saw a high volume of traffic this week as continued construction on Interstate 75 caused all but one northbound lane to close.
Two months ago, a landslide on I-75 caused LaFollette to be filled with bumper-to-bumper traffic. Contractors did extensive excavating work and built a wall to stabilize the landslide, said Mark Nagi, Tennessee Department of Transportation Community Relations Officer for Region One. On March 15, a crossover lane was built, which carried southbound traffic from mile marker 144 to mile marker 141.
Monday night, an embankment designed to stabilize the landslide collapsed around mile marker 143. Where this had occurred, some soil fell onto the southbound lanes of I-75.
TDOT closed the interstate to southbound traffic, but one lane remained open to northbound traffic.
This is because of the construction that is being done.
“We want to stabilize that rock slope,” Nagi said. “To solidify that rock slope they are launching soil nails.”
These soil nails are being placed about 20 feet beneath the southbound lanes, according to an article on TDOT’s website.
The construction occurred close to the crossover lane, so the southbound traffic was diverted, Nagi said.
Southbound traffic has been diverted off I-75 at exit 160 onto Highway 25W South through Jellico and LaFollette, and back onto I-75 at exit 134 at Caryville. Wide loads have been detoured through Elk Valley, taking exit 160 and following State Route 297 west to SR 63, reentering I-75 at exit 141.
The LaFollette Police Department has had to direct the extra traffic, which requires the attention of three or four officers, police chief Jimmie Jeffries said. This will also require over-time, Jeffries said. Officers have directed traffic at the intersection of Indiana Avenue and Central Avenue. The LPD also contacted LUB to put all traffic signals west of Tennessee Avenue, except for Towe String Road, on hazard, Jeffries said.
“We’re just doing the best we can to deal with it as it comes through,” Jeffries said. “We will continue until it’s over with again.”