WNC Roads Updates: Rock Slides, Upgrades And Cracks

Jan 9, 2020

The mountains of Western North Carolina offer beautiful views and outdoor activities but the topography is often a challenge for the state department of transportation. 

Here are a few important updates on local roads in the region:

US Route 441- Jackson County

The cracks in Cowee Mountain has been under construction since February 2019. Since then the road has been diverted down to two lanes so that contractors can dig into the mountain to put in stabilizing soil nails. The drainage ditch along the road was also updated. Right now the project is in its first phase and has already cost $2.7 million dollars, says NC DOT Spokesperson David Uchiyama.

“That’s a much more important highway than most folks realize. It’s the main North-South connection for the Western part of the state. So that is a very, very important highway for NC DOT to keep open and certainly to keep safe,” says Uchiyama. 

Over 14,000 vehicles travel on this section of road each day.

DOT doesn’t have a timeline for when the project will be finished but hope to have an update in the spring. 

Interstate 40 - Haywood County

Interstate 40 from the border of Tennessee into Haywood County will be moved down to two lanes as the state department of transportation works to improve the road.  The $33 million dollar project began last year. So far DOT has redone the surface of the road, added taller guardrails and replaced drainage. Now DOT is replacing the center median wall. The road is expected to be fully open again in May. Until then travellers can expect delays. 

U.S Route 19/74 - Swain County  

In early 2019, a crack appear in U.S Route 74 just before the Bryson City exit. The road was put in a two lane holding pattern. Right now, there is no timeline for when DOT will present a plan to fully fix in the road. 

U.S. Route 19/74 - Nantahala Gorge 

After a rock slide this weekend, crews are still working to clean up debris in the Nantahala Gorge. The road will be closed today and tomorrow for clean up. Crews are working to move any trees or rocks that could fall during this weekend’s predicted rainstorm. This is the first closure of the gorge in 2020 but it has been less than six months since the last time the road - and the Nantahala River - were closed because of landslides.