Three lanes of Interstate 75 in East Tennessee are now open and the fourth is expected to open by the April 15 deadline as crews continue to clear the highway and stabilize the hillside after February rock slides shut it down.

Charles Blalock & Sons Inc., Sevierville, Tenn., won the $2.9-million emergency contract for stabilization and road repairs awarded Feb. 29 by the Tennessee Dept. of Transportation and started work immediately.

Crews have been working 12-hour shifts daily to meet the re-opening deadlines, said Mark Nagi, TDOT spokesman. The southbound lanes opened the evening of March 9, ahead of the March 17 deadline, and the single northbound lane opened March 24, on time, he said.

About 80,000 cu yds of dirt and rock are being removed from the hillside. The area involved is about 120 ft high, and runs about 600 ft wide. “The cut begins about 20 ft from the guy wire” for the Tennessee Valley Authority power lines that run along the crest of the hill, Nagi said.

The slope, formerly nearly vertical, is being changed to a 1:1 ratio and will be stabilized, he said. “Approximately 60% of the entire slope from top to bottom will be covered with the anchored wire mesh,” he said. About 29,000 sq ft of wire mesh and approximately 400 anchors, averaging 50 ft long, will be used for stabilization.

More than 28,000 vehicles travel the area, near Pioneer, Tenn., in Campbell County, daily, but that number grows during spring break.