Winter taking toll on unpaved roads - | WBTV Charlotte

Winter taking toll on unpaved roads


Snow was not falling on Thursday in the North Carolina Mountains, but road crews still had their hands full. They were busy rebuilding unpaved roads that have been damaged by the extremes in temperatures the past few weeks.

One week, temperatures were below zero on several mornings and struggled to get into the teens. The next week, temperatures stayed above freezing, even reaching near 60 on one day.

Those abrupt changes have caused upheavals in the gravel road surfaces.

"It's the worst in many years," said Tony Glenn of the DOT Highway Maintenance team in Watauga County.

Glenn was directing dump truck loads of gravel on Sampson Road where a motor grader would then level out the surface. In some spots the road has become so soft there are ruts half a foot deep and growing.

"Part of the ground is still frozen or it would be worse," said Bob Lewis who was driving the grader. Damage from the freeze and thaw cycle is expected every year but Lewis says there has been a lot more work needed this winter and the work will have to continue all the way into summer to get roads back in top shape.

North Carolina does have a program to pave gravel roads, but budgets have been tighter in recent years and many projects have been delayed.

Sampson Road is on a tentative list for paving, if right of ways can be obtained by the state. Even then, though, officials say there is no guarantee money will be available for the project. 

Until it is, crews will do what they can keep the roads passable and hope for the freezing weather to pass and spring to arrive.

"I'm more than ready for it," laughed Lewis.

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