Drivers brace for months without US 401 after floods wash out road

Local News

LOUISBURG, N.C. (WNCN) — Thomas Burton lives about a mile from U.S. 401 in Franklin County. 

“This road is like the lifeline for our family,” Burton said. 

He saw and drove through lots of rain over the weekend that eventually washed out the road and shut it down.

“It was like a mini-Noah’s Ark event, but in modern times,” Burton said. 

As U.S. 401 and other roads around him were shut down from the rain, Burton is having to find other ways to get around. 

“I took a bunch of back off-road areas through fields to get to my house,” Burton said. “It was pretty sketchy, but we did it.”

Monday, Gov. Roy Cooper and other state leaders held a briefing on this weekend’s weather that resulted in a large number of roads being flooded due to rain, including U.S. 401 in Franklin County. 

“Seven and a half inches of rain in four hours,” North Carolina Secretary of Transportation Jim Trogdon said of U.S. 401 in Franklin County. “Based on NOAA’s (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) calculation is a one-thousand year event.” 

North Carolina Department of Transportation crews are addressing U.S. 401 and other roads closed after this weekend’s weather. 

“How do we make sure we’re protecting and making sure the infrastructure is resilient to all of these unusual events that we seem to see,” Trogdon told CBS 17. 

U.S. 401 is already an active construction site, and according to NCDOT officials, a contractor is in place and will review what can be done to get the road back open. 

Trogdon told CBS 17 each road is unique, and they’ll take steps before moving with repairs. 

“What materals are needed? What’s the design for the replacement,” Trogdon said. “Because if it failed, you’t necessarily put back what was there. It was inadequate.”

Meanwhile, Burton hopes to see U.S. 401 back up and running soon. 

“It’ll add, over the course of the day, probably an extra hour of driving,” Burton said. “There’s nothing else you can do about it, except just bite down and deal with it.”

CBS 17 asked NCDOT officials when exactly and how much money will it take to open roads like this. 

While the exact time frame is unknown, they’re hoping to have it reopened by the end of August. 

In the meantime, officials said you’ll be detoured three miles to follow N.C. 98 to N.C. 96, and then back to U.S. 401.

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