Peak road closures was 66
Only one state-maintained road in a six-county region east of Raleigh remains closed in the wake of Hurricane Florence.
The shuttered route is Zion Church Road in Wayne County, where a 6-foot-wide drainage pipe underneath the road was destroyed by floodwaters. The N.C. Department of Transportation has determined the best fix will be to replace the pipe with a bridge. The department has hired a company, which already was under contract to replace older bridges in Wayne County, to design and construct the bridge. The project will take about six months to complete.
Wayne County is part of the department’s Division 4, which also includes Edgecombe, Halifax, Johnston, Nash and Wilson counties. Beginning next week, the division plans to make another sweep of collecting storm-related debris set out along state-maintained roads.
At the storm’s height, the division reported 66 road closures. The closures included N.C. 55, U.S. 13 and Interstate 795 North in Wayne County; I-95 South in Johnston County; and N.C. 222 and U.S. 58 in Wilson County. The division staff also closed a bridge on Beston Road in Wayne County after floodwaters washed out the pavement that helps support the bridge structure. The road since has been repaired and reopened.
In all, 152 road washouts were identified, mostly in Wayne County. And floodwaters damaged eight bridges, 15 box-shaped culverts and 89 drainage pipes. Tackling the repairs were more than 240 NCDOT employees, plus on-call contractors, using a combination of 145 chainsaws, 85 dump trucks and 17 backhoe tractors, plus other equipment.
The division shifted some of its manpower from counties such as Halifax and Nash that had little damage to the more impacted areas in Wayne, Johnston and Wilson counties, where fallen trees and swollen creeks made several roads impassable immediately following the storm. The division also sent two 11-person teams to hard-hit Division 3, which includes Wilmington and Jacksonville.
“We were able to move some crews around within our division and to help out our neighbors to the south, so we could reopen roads as fast as possible,” said Jiles Harrell, the Division 4 assistant maintenance engineer. “To get almost entirely caught up with this kind of a storm is an amazing effort by the department.”
The division is pursuing this week an emergency repair to the earthen embankment of I-795 northbound at mile marker 22 near Goldsboro. A short section of an exit lane washed out, and crews filled in the lost dirt as a temporary repair. Both northbound lanes remain open.