SYLVA – N.C. Department of Transportation officials will reopen U.S. 19/74 through the Nantahala Gorge on Saturday evening.
The highway has been closed for four weeks for NCDOT crews and contract forces to secure an unstable area susceptible to landslides. A temporary signal will condense the highway to one lane beside the slide area near Ferebee Memorial Picnic Area.
A slide temporarily closed the highway on Jan. 4. Short-term repairs kept the highway open until March 10, when additional failures were found and long-term plans were developed. Over the past three weeks, crews scaled, drilled and blasted away loose material.
Crews hauled about 9,000 tons of material in 484 truckloads over the past week by working around the clock. Most recently, they installed a catchment barrier next to the road.
“We were able to accomplish a lot of work and were able to do so safely over the last three weeks,” Assistant District Engineer Zach Shuler said. “We’re pleased to open the highway to safe conditions once again. But we’d like folks to know that crews will still be working in the area.”
The contractor, GeoStabilization International, will install long rock anchors and high-strength steel cables and other measures to further stabilize the slope. These final steps in the project should take about five weeks.