I-65 Blasting Blunder Damages Williamson County Homes - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

I-65 Blasting Blunder Damages Williamson County Homes

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By Chris Cannon

WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Tenn. - The widening of Interstate 65, south of Franklin, led to some scary moments Thursday for several near-by homeowners.

Heather Ullig's property backs up the section of interstate that crews are working to widen. That work included blasting Thursday around 12:30 p.m.

Ullig said the blast did not happen at the usual time just before noon so she was out in her yard watering plants. She did hear the typical blast, but what happened next scared her.

"All the sudden I glance up and I see over the trees rocks and debris come flying, so I just duck to take cover," Ullig said.

Her quick thinking may have saved her from injury. One of those rocks hit Ullig's home just a foot from where she was standing.

Ullig was on the phone with her husband when the rocks started falling from the sky.

"When she finally got back on the line I said what happened, and she said it was kind of like an earthquake," said Brian Ullig.

A walk around their property showed the damage the rocks left behind: broken fence posts, a gash in their shed, and a child's fort covered in rock debris.

But it was their neighbor's home that took the brunt of the blast.

"They had a door smashed, a broken window and several gashes in their roof," Brian Ullig explained.

Both of those properties back-up to the interstate construction. Mike Lurty's home is three football fields away from the blasting site.

Even at that distance a cantaloupe size rock smashed through his roof.

"It came through the ceiling of our master bathroom and crashed to the floor," Lurty said.

LoJack Inc. is the Tennessee Department of Transportation contractor who performed the blasting Thursday afternoon.

The company had a similar situation take place last week and was banned from blasting at the site for three days. Thursday, the fire marshal was present while the blast took place.

The issue is dirt seams located within the rock on that section of the work site.

"From what our geologists are saying is that dirt makes the debris a little harder to control," said TDOT spokeswoman BJ Doughty.

The blasting plan will for the project will once again be scrutinized to see how this problem can be avoided in the future.

"But from TDOT's stance we don't want the contractor to do anymore blasting until we feel comfortable that all the necessary measures have been taken," Doughty said.

The affected neighbors are just happy no one was hurt during the blasting blunder.

"We got a lot of little kids in the area, a lot of work at home moms that play with their kids outside and you know it's just dangerous when there's flying debris," said Brian Ullig.

Crews from LoJack immediately went to the neighborhood and cleaned up all the rocks that had fallen into the yards. Insurance adjustors were also sent to the area.

Email: ccannon@newschannel5.com
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