The forecast for heavy rain this week has more than farmers and backyard gardeners groaning. Workers still repairing roads damaged by last month’s severe flooding in the Charlotte region are concerned more rain could bring more damage – delaying road reopenings.
“We can’t recall a summer like this in recent memory,” said Jen Thompson, a spokeswoman for the N.C. transportation department’s Division 10 office.
“Every time we hear the weather forecast with more rain, it makes us a little anxious.,” she said. “We don’t want more delays on top of what we’re already trying to fix.”
Detours around damaged roads have added to travel delays with the state DOT in the midst of its yearly resurfacing projects. Typically, those projects are done between June and October.
In the DOT’s Division 12 that consists of Catawba, Cleveland and Lincoln counties, 40 roads were damaged in 56 spots after 10 inches of rain fell in about four hours on July 27, said Mark Stafford, a Division 12 engineer for 18 years.
“I’ve never seen that many roads damaged at one time,” Stafford said. “In terms of the structures completely washed away, it was the worst flooding that we’ve seen.”
Since the July 27 flooding, crews have reopened dozens of roads, including N.C. 10, the most heavily traveled road closed by flood damage.
Yet there are still so many damaged roads, the state was forced to hire private companies to help with repairs, including the rebuilding of a bridge on Beam Lumber Road near Lincolnton. It will likely take four to five months to replace the bridge.
On Monday, crews were still working on more than a dozen Charlotte-region roads damaged by floods, mostly west and northwest of the city. The list could grow if heavy rains return.
In Mecklenburg County, two flooded roads still haven’t completely reopened, both in Huntersville. DOT officials hope repairs to Gilead Road wrap up by Aug. 23, and on Bud Henderson Road by week’s end, Thompson said.
“Some of these repairs may require something that we don’t have in our inventory, like a larger customized pipe,” Thompson said. “And if we’ve had to coordinate with cable, phone and electric companies, it’s made sense to bring a contractor to help us.”
The damage in the Charlotte region, she said, hasn’t been as severe as in Western North Carolina where “entire sections of roads have washed away. In those cases, you’re looking at months before they’ll be reopened.”
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