Area road closures dwindle from 200 to 30

ABERDEEN – As Hurricane Florence battered the state’s rural Piedmont Region, the number of road locations that became impassable topped 200. By Tuesday, the number had dwindled to 30.

After the storm blew through, a small army of about 200 employees for NCDOT’s Division 8 quickly moved out to remove fallen debris, fix washouts and repair shoulders and pavement to resume normal traffic operations as soon as possible. Their arsenal of equipment included 99 chainsaws, 103 dump trucks and 27 backhoe tractors, plus other machinery.

The highway division is responsible for Chatham, Hoke, Lee, Montgomery, Moore, Randolph, Richmond and Scotland counties.

The storm required a dozen bridges to close across the division, but all have since reopened. Only one primary route in the division remains closed. U.S. 1 in Richmond County is closed to through traffic because a bridge on the same highway just across the South Carolina line is damaged.

Floodwaters and collapsed trees were worse in the division in Montgomery, Richmond, Moore, Lee and Scotland counties. Scotland County, with 13 closures as of Monday, has the largest number of roads in the division still impassable. There problems there include roads with pavement damage and washed-out shoulders. Richmond County has the second-most number of closures with five.

“We were fortunate we could move crews around within our division to the counties that were more impacted by the hurricane,” said Chuck Dumas, the Division 8 maintenance engineer. “Our employees have worked tirelessly through three weekends on getting our public road access restored.”

The division has largely completed collecting storm debris along state highways in seven of its counties, and will focus on Scotland County the week of Oct. 8. Moving forward, the division’s highway maintenance and bridge maintenance crews will continue making repairs until every road is open. The goal is to reopen all routes by next month. Aiding the division are five contracting companies.