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US 441-Emergency Landslide Remediation

On January 25, 2010, a large landslide blocked both southbound lanes of US441 between Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, TN. Known locally as the Spur, this busy stretch of road provides the main access to the city of Gatlinburg and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Two weeks after the initial slide, Charles Blalock and Sons was awarded an emergency contract by the Tennessee Department of Transportation to remove debris and stabilize the surrounding area. The plans called for stabilization of the hillside using rock dowels. Once the hillside was stable, Blalock crews then constructed a timber and H-pile retaining wall to further stabilize the area. The wall was later covered with a colored concrete panel façade, which was made at the Blalock Ready Mix precast facility in Sevierville. Finally, a parapet wall was installed along the roadway shoulder and the entire area was repaved.

Crews from both Charles Blalock and Sons and Blalock Ready Mix worked around the clock during the initial phases of the project to ensure that the roadway was reopened as quickly as possible. This was especially critical since some news outlets were erroneously reporting that Gatlinburg was inaccessible due to the slide. Blalock Ready Mix concrete technicians accelerated mix set times to ensure that footings for the H-piles would achieve early strength sufficient to support the wall load. This was further complicated by low temperatures and snowfall during much of the project.

The debris removal and wall construction phase of the project was completed 11 days ahead of schedule, allowing DOT crews to reopen the roadway earlier than expected.

On Feb. 8, TDOT awarded a $713,909 emergency contract to Charles Blalock and Sons to stabilize the rockfall site and clear any debris from the roadway. In phase one of the project, crews installed 54 rock dowels to stabilize the slope. The contractor built a 2,411-square-foot retaining wall which included 40,000 pounds of steel H piles combined with timber, and 1,800 tons of graded solid rock. Phase one was finished 11 days early which allowed the contractor to receive a $50,000 incentive.

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