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Roads across southeastern North Carolina, including Interstate 40 between Interstate 95 and Wilmington, are slowly being reopened to traffic after more than a week under water. It’s a process the North Carolina Department of Transportation has dubbed “Recovery Week.”
The Department of Transportation has released a county-by-county list of all road closures in the state.
Although I-95 opened statewide late Sunday and I-40 was added Monday afternoon, Gov. Roy Cooper said flooding dangers remain in much of the southeast portion of the state.
“It’s not something where we are going to work on all these roads at the same time, because there only so many contractors, but we are going to get the work done as fast as we can to get this stuff open,” said DOT spokesman Steve Abbott.
Officials also have reopened U.S. Highway 74 between Charlotte and Wilmington, and U.S. Highway 70, which has been closed east of Kinston since the middle of last week, is expected to be reopened Tuesday morning, Transportation Secretary Jim Trogdon said.
“Getting those critical arteries open again is key to our recovery,” Cooper said at a news conference.
As of Monday afternoon, 399 roads remain closed across the state because of flooding, including 15 U.S. highways and 59 North Carolina highways, Trogdon said.
More than 1,800 roads statewide need extensive repairs, he said, calling damage to U.S. Highway 421 at the New Hanover-Pender county line the most significant seen so far.
The DOT has advised motorists to avoid travel in Bladen, Brunswick, Columbus, Duplin, Pender, Robeson, Sampson, Scotland and southeastern Wayne counties due to washed out roads and bridges.
The DOT recommends motorists reach these cities by the following routes:
From the south via U.S. Highway 17
From the north via I-40 east to N.C. Highway 24 east (Exit 373) to U.S. 17 south
From Fayetteville via N.C. Highway 87 to U.S. Highway 701 south to N.C. Highway 211 east to U.S. 74 east
Two eastbound lanes and one westbound lane are open in I-40 between N.C. Highway 41 (Exit 385) and Wilmington.
U.S. 74 serves as another alternate route from I-95 to Wilmington
Jacksonville via I-40 to N.C. 24 (Exit 373)
Kinston via N.C. Highway 11 south from Greenville. U.S. 70 is open between I-95 and the coast with one lane closed in each direction in Kinston.
New Bern via U.S. 17 south from Washington
Havelock and Morehead City via U.S. 17 in Washington to New Bern
The governor and state officials are urging drivers to stop moving or driving around barricades and signs. On Sunday, the Durham Sheriff’s Office responded to calls for assistance after drivers ignored barricades put up to block Stage Coach Road, which was flooded.
“We still have a lot of issues with people going around barricades, even moving barricades, which threatens the people who come after them,” Abbott said.
Even if a road looks clear, its structural integrity could be affected, and the road is dangerous to drive on.