Howard Gap to receive repairs

Published 11:12 pm Sunday, March 17, 2019

Construction scheduled to start in the fall or winter 


SALUDA—As a section of Howard Gap Road seems to crumble more and more every day, the North Carolina Department of Transportation says the road will be fixed.  

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A section of Howard Gap Road has been closed since Jan. 31 following heavy rains over the last year. The section is near Saluda, between Saluda and Tryon.  

The NCDOT said Thursday that engineers have outlined a plan to rebuild the road, repair a sinkhole in the median of Interstate 26 and improve drainage on Saluda Mountain in Polk County.  

Repairs are scheduled to be made in the fall and winter of this year, with the design scheduled for this spring, according to the NCDOT.  

Residents have placed videos and pictures on social media recently of Howard Gap Road damage as well as damage to a wall holding up Interstate 26. A power pole was also installed recently in the middle of the road of Howard Gap, just past where the road is closed and crumbling.  

A team of engineers and geologists assessed the damage to Howard Gap as well as the mountain below Interstate 26 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,” states an NCDOT press release.  

The state plans to repair or replace the entire surface and subsurface drainage system for the Saluda grade section of Interstate 26 and Howard Gap Road, as well as the surface drainage for a section of Interstate 26 near Indian Gap. A retaining wall anchored into rock would increase stability of the rebuilt Howard Gap Road, according to the NCDOT.  

“This course of action will provide a long-term solution for stabilizing both roads for drivers,” NCDOT District Engineer Lonnie Watkins said. “Now that we have a general plan we will identify the source of funding and develop designs.”