Press release from the N.C. Department of Transportation:
A rockslide early Friday morning closed the primary route between Mitchell and McDowell counties.
The slide occurred on N.C. 226 about one-half mile north of U.S. 221 and covered both lanes with dirt, rock and trees after Tropical Storm Zeta moved through the area.
N.C. Department of Transportation officials have established a 90-mile detour for commercial and visitor traffic. Northbound commercial vehicles should take I-40 West to I-240 West to I-26 West to U.S. 19E east to its intersection with N.C. 226 in Mitchell County. Southbound vehicles should take the routes in reverse.
Passenger vehicles may use U.S. 221 North, N.C. 194 West and U.S. 19E a detour. This route cannot accommodate large vehicles or trucks with trailers.
“We are mobilizing equipment, coordinating with emergency services, and working with the power company,” said Scott Killough, an assistant maintenance engineer with NCDOT. “We estimate that there’s more than 100 dump-truck loads of material that we’ll have to haul away.
“Our goal is to reopen the highway by Sunday morning.”
Geotechnical experts will analyze the area and aid with necessary safety precautions before, during and after the clearing operation. Power company crews will first remove trees from the power lines, then NCDOT crews will use heavy equipment to haul away the debris and a final safety evaluation will be performed before the highway is opened.
Transportation officials advise drivers to set aside additional time to travel around N.C. 226 this weekend.