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Some DOT work in WNC paused because of COVID19, others to resume after holiday

The road between Franklin and Sylva was deteriorating long before the COVID19 Pandemic hit, however crews have stopped working on the section of road. While work is currently suspended, officials with the Department of Transportation confirmed this week that it is temporary.

“The original contract is still active and WNC Paving is still working with the NCDOT to make any roadway repairs that might be necessary in order to keep the current travel lanes in good working condition,” said DOT’s communications office. “The new contract for Cowee Mountain has not yet been awarded due to the COVID-19 pandemic and associated budget issues.”

Travelling closer to Sylva, a portion of the road just before Dillsboro is down to one lane and will remain that way while additional studies are done to determine the cause of the problem.

“NCDOT’s Jackson County Maintenance Unit is monitoring the section daily after it suffered a slope failure and cracking in the pavement,” said NCDOT. “Geotechnical engineers have reviewed the site and are in the process of developing long-term plans. In the meantime, a lane closure will remain in place until funding is approved for a repair project.”

Leaving Jackson County and heading toward Swain County, the construction project near Walker Mountain had seemingly come to a stop, but according to DOT it will resume after the Fourth of July holiday.

“This work is currently ongoing and it remains as a construction zone,” said DOT. “The contractor installing the soil nails has encountered very difficult material and the work has been slow.  They have paused for a long holiday and to consider utilizing a new type of soil nail.  Work will resume after the holiday with excavation and nail installation.”

Although the Cowee and Walker Mountain projects are not included, the state will temporarily suspend most highway construction projects that cause lane closures to help reduce the anticipated increased traffic over the Fourth of July holiday weekend.

NCDOT will keep lanes open where possible on major routes from the evening of July 2 until the morning of July 7. There are some locations, however, where the type of construction or the status of the project requires lane closures to remain in place for safety reasons.

Drivers can check the status of the route they plan to take in advance by going to DriveNC.gov.

GHSP’s “Operation Firecracker”

Drivers should also be aware that the Fourth of July is a time for law enforcement to crack down on drunk driving.

The Governor’s Highway Safety Program is running its “Operation Firecracker” campaign through July 5, which is geared toward catching people who are driving under the influence. This year, GHSP is also asking motorists to support sober driving by writing with window chalk on their vehicles #KeysFreeNC.

If you plan to drink alcohol this holiday weekend, or any day, rely on a designated driver, call a friend, or use a cab or ride-sharing service.

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