Widening, better drainage on deck for washed-out stretch of US 401 in Franklin County

Local News

FRANKLIN COUNTY, N.C. (WNCN) – U.S. 401 in southern Franklin County is still shut down from the washout Saturday, but there is hope that the road will open sooner than originally thought.  

Model plane enthusiast Dennis Penny has lived in Franklin County since 1993. He has never seen anything like those heavy downpours on Saturday. 

“I’ve never seen water pool up around the 401 area, but I’ve also never seen as hard as it rained for as long as it did.  So, that was a lot of water coming down really quick and it had nowhere to go.”

The Little River runs into Moore’s pond near US-401. All the heavy rain flooded the pond and washed out the road.

“Unfortunately, over the years, some of the beavers have built up dams on some of those areas, and the water doesn’t flow like it used to,” Moore theorized.

Beavers or not, the North Carolina Department of Transportation caught a break in repairing the road, according to NCDOT’s Marty Homan. 

“There was already a previously planned project that was underway up there, so we had a contractor in place so our staff was able to work with the contractor to come up with a plan to reopen the road pretty quickly,” Horman said.

The project is widening U.S. 401 to four lanes and creating better drainage in that area. The goal is to have the road finished and opened by the end of July, instead of the end of August like was originally thought over the weekend.

Homan knows the importance of speed.

“It’s a growing area, there are 12,000 vehicles that use that crossing every day.  So, we want to get it back up and running as soon as possible.”

However, until then, detours are the name of the game. One of the main detours is using US-1 and going through Youngsville.

“When you add a bunch more cars in there; I sat through three lights yesterday in Youngsville, trying to get through because all the cars are routed through Youngsville because of the 401,” Penny said.

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