LOWGAP — A well traveled roadway in the Lowgap area which was washed out by heavy rainfall could be closed to through traffic for another week or more, transportation officials say.
Downpours in the area on Monday caused a section of Round Peak Church Road, about sixth-tenths of a mile north of Flippin Road, to crack and collapse. That left behind a huge crevice, making the road impassable for vehicles and requiring a detour.
It is believed that debris clogged a storm-drain pipe at the site. And with water from the heavy rainfall having nowhere to go, the pavement and soil underneath was washed out, said Mark Williams, Surry County maintenance engineer for the N.C. Department of Transportation.
“The reports were between two and five inches of rainfall, and it’s hard for anything to hold up,” Williams added of the force involved.
Ironically, storm-drain improvements already had been planned at that location, although Mother Nature has now hastened them.
“It was an existing 36-inch pipe and it was scheduled to be replaced,” Williams said of the structure affected. “We had identified it as getting in worse condition, and we had had some problems there in the past.”
Since Monday’s forced closure of Round Peak Church Road, crews with the bridge-replacement unit of the DOT have began installing a new pipe of 72 inches in diameter — twice the size of the previous one. The bridge personnel handle such fixtures that are 48 inches or larger, Williams explained.
Although the installment and related back-fill work is expected to be completed by Friday, Williams said he was advised by the bridge unit Wednesday that a headwall also will be constructed as part of the project. A headwall is a small retaining wall placed at the outlet of a stormwater pipe or culvert.
Building it is best done when crews do not have to contend with traffic passing through, Williams said.
The extra time needed for that structure to be complete means the affected portion of Round Peak Church Road probably will not be reopened to traffic until the middle or latter part of next week, he said.
Signage alerting motorists to the detour has been erected in the meantime, with the DOT sympathetic regarding the impact on them.
“I haven’t measured to see how long that detour is,” Williams said. “I’m sure it’s inconveniencing people on that road.”
The average daily traffic count for the route affected was measured at 1,700 vehicles, based on 2010 studies, the latest-available year. “I don’t think that’s an accurate reflection,” Williams said.
The maintenance engineer believes the figure is artificially inflated by traffic to and from Cedar Ridge Elementary School on Flippin Road and doesn’t reflect the overall use of Round Peak Church Road.
Reach Tom Joyce at 719-1924 or firstname.lastname@example.org.