SYLVA – The N.C. Department of Transportation is requesting a non-declared emergency provision to hire contractors immediately to assist with storm damage recovery in Polk County.
“We are doing everything possible to clean up the damage and get the highway open as soon as possible for the residents of Polk County,” Division 14 Engineer Brian Burch said. “The storms were devastating to the area, and a disruption to the daily lives of citizens.
“We know everything won’t be exactly as before, but we’d like for things to return to as normal as possible as soon as possible.”
Severe rain and thunderstorms on Friday night closed Interstate 26 for about 6 hours, U.S. 176 and multiple secondary roads in the county for longer periods of time.
The provision would expedite the process of local NCDOT officials hiring a contractor cleanup, debris removal, culvert replacements, shoulder repair, guardrail restoration and other restorations. Early estimates for the contract range from $1.5-2 million.
A mudslide along with ensuing cleanup and repairs will require several weeks for NCDOT and contractor crews to complete. Additional NCDOT crews from Henderson, Haywood and Transylvania counties assisted with cut-and-shove operations over the weekend.
U.S. 176, east of Saluda and near Thompson Road, is closed to through traffic and observers. Only local and emergency traffic is allowed through the closure.
The detour for westbound traffic involves taking N.C. 108 from the Tryon Area to I-26 West to Exit 59 and Ozone Drive back to U.S. 176. The opposite applies for eastbound traffic.
Transportation officials remind motorists to slow down in work zones, obey all posted signs and follow marked detours.