Howard Gap Road storm repairs to begin this week

Published 8:00 am Thursday, July 12, 2018

One mile of road to be closed until November

SALUDA — A $1.5 million contract was recently awarded to Tennoca Construction Company to do repairs to Howard Gap Road between Tryon and Saluda, which was damaged by May’s storms.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation said in a release this week that a 1-mile section of the roadway will be closed, with no vehicles allowed in the work zone due to the dangerous nature of the construction.

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“We have to rebuild the road,” said Division 14 Construction Engineer Ted Adams. “The damage was similar to what we saw on U.S. 176 [in Tryon] with debris, but with wash-outs in the ditch-line.”

The company is scheduled to rebuild the road with new support underneath, repair or replace drainpipes and culverts, cut new ditches, and repave the surface to bring the road up to modern standards, according to the DOT.

Heavy rains came on May 18, with the area receiving more than 20 inches of rain in a 15-day period that month. The rains caused widespread mudslides and flooding throughout the county, which resulted in three deaths along U.S. 176 in Tryon.

North Carolina declared a state of emergency in Polk County, which is still working to be declared a federal disaster.

The section of Howard Gap Road between Indian Mountain Road and Page Road has been closed since May 19, and is expected to continue to be closed to all traffic until the construction is complete in November.

DOT officials said the western end of Howard Gap Road will be accessible from Ozone Drive in Saluda, and the southern side of Howard Gap Road will be accessible from Lynn Road (Highway 108) in Tryon.

The DOT is also doing other work in response to the Polk County storms.

Interstate 26 was closed on May 18 because of heavy rains and mudslides. Crews were able to get the interstate reopen, but are still repairing damage, which has caused traffic backups on the interstate recently.

DOT Communications Officer David Uchiyama said this week that Graham County Land Company has completed the work on the westbound lanes, as well as work in the median. The company is now working on the eastbound side of the interstate.

“NCDOT has implemented a new traffic safety and management area, which should allow for both lanes to remain open for longer periods of time through the rest of the repairs,” Uchiyama said. “[The work is] expected to last another three to four weeks.”