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Interstate 40 reopens in Pigeon River Gorge

Westbound drivers are once again good to go through the Pigeon River Gorge on Interstate 40.

N.C. Department of Transportation officials removed barricades and opened I-40 West between mile markers 20 and 15 early this morning after contract crews completed emergency repairs to a bridge over Jonathan Creek and White Oak Road. 

“We worried that the work could take up to five days to complete, but we’re happy it took a lot less time,” Division 14 resident engineer Nathan Tanner said. “Crews removed the damaged concrete — and there wasn’t as much as there could have been — and poured a new latex concrete, which will give drivers a safer and smoother ride across the bridge.”

This emergency work was needed due to recent rapid deterioration of the concrete surface. The deterioration has been increasing the possibility for road hazards. The $436,500 contract called for crews to use hydro-demolition to remove old concrete from the 53-year-old bridge, and then pour new concrete to complete the repairs.

Drivers may now travel in both lanes in both directions through the Pigeon River Gorge in Haywood County in time for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

While contract crews worked on the bridge, NCDOT crews utilized the closure to perform other maintenance that would not be otherwise possible. 

A pair of five-man crews from Haywood County Maintenance cleaned trash, leaves and other debris from 26 drainage grades along the inside median, and cleared all other drainage structures in the area to help water flow off the interstate lanes.

The contractor, Buckeye Bridge of Canton, completed the emergency repair for $463,500 in less than three days. The contract also included work on the eastbound lanes.

“This work had to be done, and we’re glad crews completed the job in such a timely manner,” Tanner said. “I know some folks didn’t appreciate the long detour, but we’d all much rather have a bridge that is safe for cars and trucks.”

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