Schedule set for road repair

Published 11:05 pm Thursday, November 14, 2019

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NCDOT announces schedule for I-26 and Howard Gap Road

SALUDA—Howard Gap Road has been closed for almost a year and will have to wait at least another couple of years before the road is rebuilt. 

The North Carolina Department of Transportation announced a schedule on Wednesday to repair Interstate 26 and Howard Gap Road. 

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The NCDOT recently completed a condition assessment and developed preliminary plans to repair drainage infrastructure along Interstate 26 and Howard Gap Road. 

Heavy rains in 2018 caused damage, including  a destructive event in May of 2018 that caused the closure of Interstate 26 above Howard Gap Road. Later, heavy rains caused the closure of Howard Gap Road in January of 2019 because the road in one section is literally crumbling. That section of Howard Gap Road, near Saluda, has remained closed all year. 

NCDOT officials said severe storms in recent years have damaged drainage structures beside the interstate and a storm in January destroyed a section of Howard Gap Road. 

“The initial focus will be on the critical drainage components on I-26 because the storm water drains down from I-26 to Howard Gap Road,” NCDOT Division 14 District Engineer Lonnie Watkins said. 

Plans are for NCDOT engineers to develop detailed design plans to repair or upgrade components of the drainage system along Interstate 26. The NCDOT anticipates completing the plans this winter and awarding a construction contract in the spring of 2020. Construction for Interstate 26 could begin in the summer of 2020. 

During that construction, engineers are expected to create detailed plans to rebuild Howard Gap Road, add a new retaining wall and repair or upgrade drainage on that section of the road, according to the NCDOT. Transportation officials anticipate awarding a contract for that project in the spring of 2021. Construction to rebuild the road should begin in the summer of 2021, according to the NCDOT. 

“This course of action will provide stability to I-26 and a new road to residents in the Howard Gap area,” Watkins said. “Every day, these long-term projects will benefit thousands of people who drive in Polk County.”