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Cowee Mountain project expected to be completed by Fall

While winter weather has halted the visible work on the Cowee Mountain reconstruction project, David Uchiyama, NCDOT Communications Officer said that the project is still on track to for completion this Fall.

The second phase of repairs to the slope at Cowee Mountain on U.S. 441 began in September. The $6 million phase involves rebuilding the failed slope by placing shot-rock as a foundation and building build up. So far, approximately 52,000 tons of the 123,000 tons of shot rock has been placed.

“As expected, winter weather conditions have paused major onsite activities,” said Uchiyama. “They will resume when warm conditions return. Offsite, engineers are reviewing plans to extend the buttress beyond the original scope to provide additional support.”

Dirt being excavated from the bottom of the slope will be used to backfill the buttress and reconstruction the slope and road. The dirt and material is removed wet, hauled to an offsite location with room for it to dry, then returned to compact the buttress.

Geotechnical engineers analyzed the area last summer and helped develop a two-phase plan ending with a permanent solution. The first phase included significant drainage repairs, and excavating from under the two northbound lanes before crews built a new wall to stabilize the southbound lanes.

WNC Paving crews began work last Fall to rebuild the failed road slope by placing shot-rock as a foundation and build up to a new surface with fresh paint and shiny guardrail. The contract completion date is Aug. 1, 2021.

Transportation officials remind drivers to slow down in the work zone, obey all posted signs, and merge into one lane as soon as possible.

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