Cars on Monday navigate a portion of U.S. 23/441

Cars on Monday navigate a portion of U.S. 23/441, marked with orange cones and barrels. Construction crews are fixing a culvert and pavement cracking.

Lane closures and orange construction cones and barrels are common to travelers to Sylva – seemingly, from every direction. The N.C. Department of Transportation has been busy in this area, with project completion dates yet to be determined in some cases.

Here’s an update:

Cowee Gap

A contractor for DOT started repair work in May on U.S. 23/441, fixing large cracks in the northbound lanes near Cowee Gap.

These latest cracks are in a section that crosses the path of an ancient landslide. Heavy spring rain saturated the landslide material, causing it to move downslope, cracking the pavement.

Crews for the contractor are currently repairing drainage along the southbound side of the highway.

Additional repairs will include anchoring a wall below the road, according to Jonathan Woodard, staff maintenance engineer for 10-county Division 14, including Jackson County.

“A specialty contractor has been retained to install the anchors and they are in the process of negotiating the details of the work,” Woodard said.

That will be the first phase of the work, according to DOT spokesman David Uchiyama.

“The second phase is still being designed,” he said. “That will include more extensive repairs to the wall.”

A design discussion meeting is planned this week, Uchiyama said.

Traffic is funneled into one lane in each direction for the foreseeable future, creating safe travel lanes for drivers and safe zone for the workers, he said.

107 near Tuckasegee

Bike lanes, straightened curves, wider shoulders and seven new retaining walls are part of a $34.9 million construction project on a 3.8-mile stretch of N.C. 107 near Tuckasegee. The work stretches between Old Cullowhee Road and N.C. 281, or Canada Road.

“The project as a whole is to straighten some of the curves and add a 6-foot bike lane to each side of the road,” Uchiyama said.

The work began in spring 2017, with no completion date announced.

“Due to plan revisions, the current completion date cannot be projected,” he said. “There are just a lot small pieces that will come together on this sizeable project.”

Both lanes are open, though there will be delays during daytime construction hours, he said. The work is being done by Young and McQueen out of Burnsville.

Bridge work

On U.S. 23/74, work is wrapping up on the bridges at the intersection with Grindstaff Cove Road, Uchiyama said.

“A contractor for the N.C. Department of Transportation recently completed a resurfacing project that improved the ride and safety on six bridges in Jackson County,” he said.

The contractor, NHM Constructors, is removing equipment this week from the completed work on the bridges. Crews from NHM has also resurfaced four other bridges in the area dating back to last year.

NHM will move on to Exit 74, the intersection of U.S. 74 and U.S. 441 north, in July.

The contract calls for improvements to bridges in all 10 counties of DOT’s Division 14.