Howard Gap Road to remain closed

Published 5:20 pm Tuesday, January 29, 2019

NCDOT geotechnical unit analyzed road Monday

SALUDA—A section of Howard Gap Road between Tryon and Saluda is closed once again, with a geotechnical unit examining the damage on Monday.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation said the road is still closed and will remain closed for the foreseeable future.

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The area was previously closed from June through October, following torrential rains that caused mudslides in the area in May.

NCDOT spokesman David Uchiyama said that the state’s geotechnical team examined the area Monday along Howard Gap Road and they will compile their findings and analysis to help determine the best course of action.

The road is currently closed between Indian Mountain Road and Page Farm Road. The area includes the subdivision of RixHaven.

“Initial indications are that continued heavy rains have undermined the structural integrity of the road,” Uchiyama said Monday. “NCDOT crews placed concrete barriers on both sides to prevent local traffic from driving in the area.”

The average daily traffic along Howard Gap Road is 300 vehicles per day, according to the NCDOT.

Areas of Howard Gap Road can either be accessed from Highway 108 in Tryon up to the closure or from Ozone Drive in Saluda on the other side of the closure.

The road is cracked and sinking.

While not a record year, the area had an exceptional amount of rainfall during 2018, particularly in May. Mudslides devastated the U.S. 176 area of Tryon, including three deaths caused by heavy rains. Many homeowners are still dealing with cleanup following the mudslides and flooding, with some homeowners recently asking county commissioners for help.

Tryon received more than 26 inches more rain than normal during 2018. The normal rainfall for a year is 61.77 inches and 2018 received 88.14 inches for the year.

The most rain in 2018 came in the month of May at 13.11 inches, according to the National Weather Service. Other reporting was that the area received much more in May, including some reports of more than 20 inches.

The second highest month in 2018 was in December, with 11.63 inches and third in October, with 11.37 inches, according to the National Weather Service.

Mudslides in May included several in the U.S. 176 area, as well as Howard Gap Road and Interstate 26.