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Kanuga Lake Road to reopen; other repairs lag

From left, the NCDOT is working on plans to repair broken underground pipes on ramp from the U.S. 25 Connector to I-26. A DOT crew is installing a new 9-foot aluminum culvert on Kanuga Lake Road. Appledore Avenue remains closed at Greenville Highway. From left, the NCDOT is working on plans to repair broken underground pipes on ramp from the U.S. 25 Connector to I-26. A DOT crew is installing a new 9-foot aluminum culvert on Kanuga Lake Road. Appledore Avenue remains closed at Greenville Highway.

Eleven months after a big rainstorm caused a section of Kanuga Lake Road to collapse, a repair job is under way that should lead to the reopening of the road later this month.

 

NCDOT crews installed a 9-foot aluminum pipe to replace the old pipe damaged in the washout. A detour around Kanuga Lake Road will remain in place for a few more weeks, said David Uchiyama, spokesman for the NCDOT in Western North Carolina. The work is being done by the state agency’s Division 14 bridge maintenance crews.

The Kanuga Lake Road jobs is one of several maintenance or repair jobs that have been unattended for the past year.

Chuck McGrady, the former state representative and current member of the state Transportation Board, recalled the Kanuga Lake Road problem from a year ago when he was still in the Legislature.

“I got a call that this hole opened up,” he said. “They knew exactly what needed to be done but they didn’t have a culvert and they didn’t have money to pay for one. It was one of those, ‘You’ve gotta be kidding me.’ They had to go looking for a culvert halfway across the state.”

Although the DOT’s cash balance has recovered from a level that froze road construction contracts and deferred maintenance work, many repairs remain undone. “There’s a maintenance hole caused by the financial issues, caused by giving not enough priority for maintenance,” McGrady said. “The maintenance issue, I’m hearing more about that than almost anything else. I do think it’s going to trend better.”

Lonnie Watkins, the DOT engineer in charge of maintenance for Henderson, Transylvania and Polk counties, said Division 14 is seeking authorization to let a contract for repairing an unstable section of the westbound exit ramp from the U.S. 25 Connector onto I-26 West.

“We are working up an estimate to request funding because that’s going to be a major repair and hopefully funding will get approved and we can proceed,” Watkins said. The repair is a big job because “the pipe is very deep and the box is very deep that it ties into. ... We’re hoping once we get it submitted, within maybe a month or two we can get funding and then we would do an official design because right now we’re looking at a preliminary conceptual design.”

County road maintenance engineer Harold Clark said the Appledore Avenue and Kanuga Lake Road jobs are the responsibility of the bridge division while the U.S. 25 Connector repair is in the DOT’s construction division.

“Any pipe 48 inches or larger is considered a structure,” he said. “A structure that has water through it is deemed a bridge structure, for the traffic to go across it. … The ramp — we have submitted pictures to the district office to put that out for a contract.”

If they are mildly inconvenienced by a detour, residents on Appledore Avenue have not been petitioning for the culvert to be fixed.

“Hopefully never,” Robbie Lowrance, who lives on Appledore, said when asked when the road will reopen. “It’s OK with me.” He said his children, ages 6 and 11, have been able to play in the yard without fear of speeding traffic. Many motorists who do not live in the neighborhood use Appledore as a cut-through to Erkwood Drive. “Before, you couldn’t come out because people just fly up and down this street,” Lowrance said. “We were saying we needed to put speed bumps in.”