Division 14 maintenance engineer Wesley Grindstaff witnessed a sedan-sized rock and additional debris fall from a hillside on N.C. 28 about two miles south of U.S. 74 on Thursday evening. Crews closed the area, just north of Brush Creek Road, with barricades anticipating additional slides.
It all slid overnight. Grindstaff only saw the opening act. Approximately 10,000 cubic yards of dirt and rock fell onto the road. That’s enough debris to fill 150 tandem-axle dump trucks.
“It could have been worse,” Grindstaff said. “Although it’s going to take some time to clear the debris, it’s not as complex as other slides we’ve seen in western North Carolina.”
He anticipates opening this section of N.C. 28 between U.S. 74 and Franklin by Monday, March 16.
NCDOT established the following detour for passenger vehicles: From U.S. 74, turn south of Needmore Road and follow Needmore Road for 10.3 miles back to N.C. 28. Commercial vehicles are restricted from using the highway under normal circumstances.
NCDOT crews from the Swain, Jackson and Macon county maintenance units started the clearing on Friday. They will work in daylight hours until the road is cleared, cleaned and inspected. Additional pavement and guardrail repairs may be needed at a later time.
“Our geotechnical engineers inspected the area and called it essentially a clean break — that’s good,” Grindstaff said. “That gives us better access and allows us to clean it up and make our repairs with traditional equipment and procedures.
“We will work as quickly as possible so we can restore the road.”