Shared by IRPO–Damaged Road to Receive Significant Repairs

​MILLS RIVER – N.C. Department of Transportation engineers have outlined a plan to rebuild Howard Gap Road, repair a sinkhole on the median of Interstate 26 and improve drainage on Saluda Mountain in Polk County.
Howard Gap Road has been closed since Jan. 31 due to significant roadway damage. Designs for this extensive project should begin this spring, and construction may start in the fall or winter.

A team of engineers and geologists assessed the damaged road as well as the mountain below I-26 earlier this week. They determined that a combination of factors, including the 50-year-old drainage system, record rainfall during the last year and pervious soil conditions— which means water can flow through it more easily — contributed to the damage.

The plan includes repairing or replacing the entire surface and subsurface drainage system for the Saluda grade section of I-26 and Howard Gap Road, and the surface drainage for a section of I-26 near Indian Gap. In addition, a retaining wall anchored into rock would increase stability of the rebuilt Howard Gap Road.

“This course of action will provide a long-term solution for stabilizing both roads for drivers,” said Lonnie Watkins, the NCDOT district engineer for the area. “Now that we have a general plan we will identify the source of funding and develop designs.”

Shared by IRPO

ASHEVILLE – Area residents have a chance to learn more about the North Carolina Department of Transportation’s Draft 10-Year transportation plan for 2020-2029 at open houses in Asheville and Sylva through March 1. The department unveiled its proposed funding and construction plan in January with more than 1,600 transportation projects across the state.

The list for Division 13 — Buncombe, Burke, Madison, McDowell, Mitchell, Rutherford and Yancey Counties — includes 16 new projects. The Division 14 list — Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Henderson, Jackson, Macon, Polk, Swain and Transylvania Counties — includes 12 new projects.

The projects were selected based on technical data, as well as input from local officials and the public. A list of the projects in the draft plan and additional information is available on the NCDOT website.

The transportation plan is updated every two years. Projects scheduled in the first five years are considered committed, while projects in the final five years of the draft 10-year plan will be re-evaluated again as part of the development process for the 2022-2031 plan. That will start later this year.

For interested residents who can’t attend the public comment sessions, they may submit comments online through April 15. The draft plan will be considered for final approval by the Board of Transportation this summer.

Each of the department’s 14 highway divisions is hosting a public comment opportunity on the projects in the current draft plan. The Asheville and Sylva offices will have the same information available. In Division 13, the drop-in session will be at the Division 13 office at 55 Orange Street, Asheville. In Division 14, it will be at the Division 14 office, 283 Webster Road, Sylva, with both sessions operating during normal business hours. The sessions will serve as opportunities for interested residents to review maps and handouts about the projects, ask questions of local NCDOT staff, and submit comments.

NCDOT will provide auxiliary aids and services under the Americans with Disabilities Act for disabled persons who want to provide input. Anyone requiring special services in Asheville should contact Hannah Cook at 828-251-6171 or Those requiring services in Sylva should contact Steve Williams at 828-586-2141 or as early as possible so that arrangements can be made.