The $4.9 million construction project includes removing a portion of the existing road, digging down 20 ft. to remove material, and building a retaining wall in the cavity to support the existing lanes.
Incessant rains over the last two years in the mountainous far west of North Carolina have led to small landslides and drainage damage along U.S. Highway 74 near Bryson City, located in Swain County.
As a result, the NCDOT has brought in a local heavy construction company to make repairs on U.S. 74, a highway important to Bryson City for both its residents and the local economy. The route is an access point for tourists to the Great Smoky Mountains and Fontana Lake, north and west, respectively, of Bryson City.
In addition, U.S. 74 is the primary commercial and truck route through that mountainous corner of the state, connecting the cities of Murphy, Andrews, Bryson City, Cherokee, Sylva and Waynesville – all to the west of Asheville.
The heavy rains that inundated the area since 2018 exacerbated an existing problem resulting in shifts under the U.S. 74 road surface. Rather than applying another re-paving bandage, the NCDOT instead decided the damage required additional repairs.
To that end, Adams Contracting Co Inc., based in nearby Robbinsville, recently began construction to fix the slide and drainage issues on the deteriorating portion of U.S. 74. Currently, company crews are repairing a 455-ft. stretch of the westbound lanes at mile marker 68. According to the NCDOT, a portion of the highway has experienced a slow migration of subsurface material resulting in cracked asphalt.
The $4.9 million construction project includes removing a portion of the existing road, digging down 20 ft. to remove material, and building a retaining wall in the cavity to support the existing lanes. Crews will then install new drainage pipes and fill the area with alternating layers of construction fabric and a lightweight composite rock. The new fill material weighs less than traditional gravel and other fill material and is designed to reduce stress on the base layer and limit movement at the location.
"The movement creates cracking and that creates a hazard to drivers," explained Chris Lee, NCDOT's Division 14 district engineer. "This is the first repair of its kind in western North Carolina and we are looking to create a safe and stable condition for drivers."
Due to the construction and repair, the NCDOT said work zone traffic will likely remain in a one-lane pattern into the winter.
In business for more than two decades, Adams Contracting is well known throughout the region for its heavy construction operation, including grading and excavation services. The small business also has become a specialist in concrete demolition, drilling and rock removal.
Heavy rains exacerbated an existing problem, resulting in shifts under the U.S. 74 road surface. Rather than applying another re-paving bandage, the NCDOT instead decided the damage required additional repairs.