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Repair work starts Tuesday in Cumberland Gap Tunnel

By: Angela Sparkman Email
By: Angela Sparkman Email

MIDDLESBORO, Ky. (WYMT) - Work begins on Tuesday, March 18th on repairs inside the Cumberland Gap Tunnel on US-25E at the Kentucky-Tennessee state line.

Engineers say groundwater is wearing away part of the tunnel and work is needed.

The problem started more than ten years ago.

"It was kind of unexpected. Kentucky Department of Transportation was experimenting with ground penetration radar, I think around early 2001, and they started discovering these voids underneath the concrete," said Robert Perkins, Section Engineer with the Kentucky Department of Transportation in Bell County.

He says the groundwater is causing the limestone to deteriorate underneath the road.

"Of course, over time, it's progressively got worse because it's so much water, and they finally determined through chemistry assessments that it was the calcium deficient water," Perkins said.

They will remove the limestone and replace it with granite.

"We're hopeful this will remedy the issues," Perkins said.

The repair work will create traffic problems. Traffic will be down to one lane each direction. They will work on the northbound side first, then the southbound side.

Work is expected to take one month.

The project will cost $3.5 million. Perkins said the money is coming from both the Kentucky and Tennessee legislatures.


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