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One lane closed over Cowee Mountain; crews draining water 280 feet inside hillside

DILLSBORO – The mountain keeps moving and draining.

One lane of U.S. 441 over Cowee Mountain will remain closed intermittently this spring as a contractor for the N.C. Department of Transportation continues repairing a large slope failure.

Crews have been taking unprecedented steps to remove water from inside the mountain, which adds to the increased settling below the northbound outside lane.

The pipes carry water from inside the mountain to a new drainage system below the mountainside. While this process is good for the overall slope stability it does cause the road to swiftly settle and creates cracks in the surface.

“By draining large amounts of water, we hope we can permanently stabilize the road,” Division 14 Resident Engineer Nathan Tanner said. “We are going to keep the outside lane closed until the road has reached its maximum settlement and guardrail meets current standards.

“We are dealing with geology and meteorology too, so there is no precise timeline for reopening the lane.”

Transportation officials remind drivers to slow down, merge early and remain alert when driving in the area.

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