HENDERSONVILLE, NC (AP) Some roads have been cleared of mud slides and debris from two tropical storm systems, but it may be spring before all roads are cleared in some western counties, said a state road engineer.
The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) has gotten at least some lanes open on all but two sites in Henderson County, District Engineer Mark Gibbs said. Two roads near Edneyville remain completely blocked, but other roads provide alternative access to those areas.
Having 130 NCDOT workers from out of town to supplement the 70 NCDOT workers in Henderson and Transylvania counties is helping progress on clearing roads, Gibbs said.
Workers from NCDOT divisions near Charlotte and Winston-Salem are sawing up and hauling away an estimated 3,200 trees that fell along road rights of way.
“I feel like if they will leave them here another three or four weeks, we will have a pretty good handle on getting the debris cleaned up,” Gibbs said.
While the out-of-town workers tackle the trees, local NCDOT workers are working on how to repair dozens of slides.
“We have several sites that have been repaired, but we have some large sites that probably won’t be completely repaired until spring of next year,” Gibbs said.
NCDOT has repaired slides that closed roads near Laurel Park and opened part of U.S. 74 in Bat Cave that had been closed by washed out culverts.
Engineers think they will have to design and build retaining walls for at least five sites in Henderson County –– two on Middle Fork Road, two on U.S. 64 East near Bat Cave and a slide on Lamb Mountain Road in Edneyville.
A spot where the Big Hungry River washed out one lane of Big Hungry Road could cost $500,000 to repair. NCDOT will have to cut into the slope to create a new road bed there because the washout drops almost vertically to the river.
In Henderson County, remnants from Hurricanes Frances and Ivan are blamed for more than $5.7 million in 130 slides. The storms also are blamed for causing $1.87 million worth of damage at 81 sites in Transylvania County and $865,000 damage to 48 sites in Polk County.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency will reimburse NCDOT for most damage costs to secondary roads, while the Federal Highway Administration will cover costs for repairs to primary routes such as U.S. 64 and 74, provided repairs are completed in 180 days.
“The only way we are going to meet those time frames is to get outside help, or to let additional contracts for slide repairs,” Gibbs said.
AP Photo: Some roads have been cleared of mud slides and debris from two tropical storm systems, but it may be spring before all roads are cleared in some western counties.