Raleigh - The following are highlights from this week at the N.C. Department of Transportation. The stories below are also featured in the department's weekly newscast N.C. Transportation Now.
Hurricane Matthew Repairs and Western North Carolina Wildfires
At the height of the impact of Hurricane Matthew, about 600 roads were closed in central and eastern North Carolina. That number is now down to about 180. Most of the repairs that still need to be completed require replacing large pipes that must be specially ordered. There are a limited number of suppliers that make these pipes and they are in high demand right now. This means that some repairs may not be completed until the spring. In addition, temporary repairs may be made until the temperature warms up enough to pave in the spring.
In the western part of the state, wildfires have burned more than 69,000 acres. Since wildfires create smoke that can quickly reduce visibility and make travel unsafe, transportation officials have worked closely with other responding agencies to monitor the impact on infrastructure and travel., U.S. 441, which is a National Park Service road, is the only major road in North Carolina closed due to the fires.
NCDOT Employees Recognized for Heroism
The N.C. Board of Transportation meeting this week, nine employees were recognized for their heroic efforts during the recent storms.
William Audrey Creech, Marty Lee Jernigan and Stacy Allen Mizelle from Bertie County Maintenance rescued a woman whose vehicle was trapped in rising flood waters during Tropical Storm Julia.
Kenneth Faircloth with Sampson County Maintenance was responding to a washed out road when he heard someone screaming for help. He yelled back at them and honked the horn to let them know he was there and getting help. He then called 911, and the Salemburg Fire Department arrived and rescued a woman and two children.
Clifton Merritt, Roger Peeden and Luther Thompson from Wayne County Maintenance were involved in two separate rescues during Hurricane Matthew. First, on the afternoon of the storm, Merritt and Peeden rescued a woman whose car was stalled out in floodwaters.
Later that night, Merritt and Thompson also rescued another woman whose car was stranded on the side of the road in knee-high water.
In addition, Terry Haley and Wayne Steele with Wake County Maintenance called 911 to rescue a motorist who drove through a barrier into flood waters and was clinging to a tree.
NCDOT Employee Receives National Award
Also at the Board of Transportation meeting, Secretary Tennyson recognized Division One Roadside Environmental Engineer Pat Mansfield, who recently received the 2016 Turney Hernandez Roadside Excellence Award from the National Roadside Vegetation Management Association. This is the association's highest honor-named for its founder-and is awarded to outstanding roadside vegetation management programs or individuals throughout the country. Division One covers 14 counties in northeastern North Carolina.
Rail Safety Reminder
Transportation officials remind everyone not to park, walk or take photos on railroad tracks. It is illegal and unsafe.