TOPTON – A short section of U.S. 19/74 in the Nantahala Gorge will remain open in a one-lane pattern around a slide location today and Wednesday.
However, N.C. Department of Transportation and contract crews will perform a scaling operation to remove loose debris from the mountainside on Thursday near Ferebee Memorial Picnic Area on the western end of the gorge.
The debris removal will require a complete closure of the highway — between Wayah Road on the west and Pizza on the River on the east — for one day with traffic being routed through Robbinsville.
From 8 a.m. until sunset on Thursday, the detour will direct westbound traffic from U.S. 19/74 to N.C. 28 to Stecoah then N.C. 143 to Robbinsville and U.S. 129 to Topton and U.S. 74. Eastbound traffic will go to Robbinsville, then Stecoah en route to Bryson City. The detour is about 20 minutes longer than driving through the gorge.
“A contractor will remove rocks and other loose material, and that should reduce the risk of another slide at this location,” Division 14 maintenance engineer Wesley Grindstaff said. “It’s best to do this preventative maintenance now. We’ll take a full day and remove any remaining unstable material to ensure this area is safe for travel.”