ASHEVILLE — The list is shrinking.
N.C. Department of Transportation crews have reopened more than a dozen roads in the last 24 hours that were closed due to some sort of storm damage.
But 35 roads — four sections of highway and 31 secondary roads — remain closed due to a slide, a washout, or severe damage suffered in the last two weeks as more than 20 inches of rain pummeled areas of the mountains and pushed rivers and creeks far beyond their banks.
State transportation officials continue to urge drivers to be cautious when driving and to avoid flooded roads or areas that are susceptible to a washout or slide.
Crews across the mountain counties continue to assess damage — especially in areas where water is receding — remove debris, clear ditches and handle other essential tasks needed to get roads open.
The primary focus remains clearing the pavement and inspecting integrity of roads so motorists may return to driving on their regular routes. Crews will return to complete the finishing touches on roads, ditches and bridges to get the entire area back to normal — or better — condition than before the storms. Complete restoration will be a long process in many cases and last through the summer in some spots.
Burke County crews cleared a slide on U.S. 221 on Thursday. McDowell County crews re-opened U.S. 70 on Thursday as well.
On Interstate 40 West heading up Old Fort Mountain from McDowell County into Buncombe County, the far right of three lanes is closed at mile marker 72 and again at mile marker 66. Those may open this weekend.
A section of U.S. 221 in Avery County remains closed while the road is rebuilt, a process that may last through June. The northbound lane of N.C. 80 requires continuing attention. U.S. 64/74A north of Chimney Rock will remain closed until that slide is cleared. U.S. 176 in Polk County remains closed as well.
All other closures are on secondary roads in Avery, Buncombe, Clay, Henderson, Iredell, Jackson, Macon, McDowell, Rutherford, Polk, Swain and Transylvania Counties.
A list of road closures is available at http://www.DriveNC.gov by using the county or route drop-down menus.