Heavy rainstorms generated three landslides in the Nantahala Gorge on Tuesday forcing a closure of U.S. 19/74 in both directions.
N.C. Department of Transportation officials said conditions are changing throughout the afternoon necessitating a closure at least through Wednesday morning.
A marked detour is directing westbound traffic from U.S. 19/74 to N.C. 28 to Stecoah, then N.C. 143 and U.S. 129 to Topton and U.S. 74. Eastbound traffic will go to Robbinsville and then Stecoah and back to U.S. 19/74.
The largest of the three slides is on the western end of the gorge near Ferebee Park. NCDOT Maintenance Engineer Travis Williamson estimates 15-20 trees and about 20 tandem-axle dump truck loads of material cover the highway.
Additional evaluations of slide areas will occur on Wednesday morning, including an examination by NCDOT geotechnical experts.
“It’s just too saturated and things are still moving, to go back in this afternoon,” Williamson said. “We’ll get a better look at the conditions, develop a plan, and get to work in the morning. I know there’s going to be a lot of mud to clean up.”