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.”