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Rock slide raises safety concerns

By Megan Brantley, mbrantley@wcyb.com
Published On: Mar 27 2013 05:25:36 PM CDT
Updated On: Mar 26 2013 11:00:00 PM CDT

Bunker Hill road in Sullivan County was left in shambles after a massive rock crashed onto it Tuesday.

SULLIVAN COUNTY, Tenn. -

Bunker Hill Road in Sullivan County was left in shambles after a massive rock crashed onto it Tuesday.  "It's almost as big as most people's living rooms," said Terry Shaffer, the Sullivan County Highway Commissioner.

Shaffer said the rock was so big, they were unable to move it in one piece. "We've got our hammer drill and we're busting the rock up because we don't have anything big enough to move it."

Shaffer tells News 5 his department expects to see several rock slides a year, especially in the winter.

Here's why: rocks are more likely to fall in the winter because of frost wedging. "That's when water gets into the crevice of rocks and when it freezes overnight it expands," said licensed geologist Jeremy Stout.

Shaffer says there isn't much they can do to prevent falling rock, except add fencing or barriers to keep the rock off the road. "We put up signage, watch for falling rocks and stuff like that. Mostly that's all we can do," he said.

As for that section of road, they'll add a barrier to keep more rocks off the road. "Our goal is to make sure every road is safe for our children and our school buses and people that travel our road," Shaffer said.

Shaffer tells News 5 there are at least two other places that are problematic for falling rock, but those areas are inspected often.