The U.S. Forest Service today announced temporary road closures for segments of Forest Service Road (FSR) 423 (Tatham Gap), FSR 440 (Tuni Gap), FSR 340 (Fires Creek) and FSR 81C (Whigg Branch) because of damage caused by a storm that occurred earlier this winter. These temporary closures extend emergency closures put in place after approximately 11 inches of rain fell during the week of Jan. 14, 2013.
A reopening date for the roads, located in the Tusquitee Ranger District of the Nantahala National Forest, has yet to be determined. Early estimates are that it could be two years before repairs are completed. Repair costs are likely to exceed $5 million. The Forest Service is applying for funding to pay for the projects. Forest Service engineers are working to address damage to these and other roads in the Pisgah and Nantahala national forests that were damaged by heavy winter rains.
"Parts of the roads are too dangerous for motor vehicle travel right now, and our first priority is to protect public safety," said District Ranger Lauren Stull. "We've installed temporary gates where feasible to keep as much of these roads open to the public as possible. We're working quickly to obtain funding to repair these sections and get folks safely back out on these roads, but sometimes Mother Nature deals you a tough hand."
Details on the road closures follow:
FSR423 (Tatham Gap) - Approximately 3.3 miles will be closed to all forms of traffic beginning approximately 0.6 miles beyond the intersection between FSR 423 and State Route (SR) 1391 extending to a temporary gate installed at the intersection of FSR 423 and FSR 423B just below the south side of Tatham Gap. Due to existing and imminent road failures, this segment is closed to all forms of use including foot, horse, motorized and non-motorized traffic until it is determined that the roadbed has stabilized sufficiently to allow safe use by the public.
FSR 440 (Tuni Creek) - Approximately 4.7 miles will be closed to motorized use beginning at the intersection of SR 1307 (Stephens Branch Road) and FSR 440 extending to the intersection between SR 1311 and FSR 440.
FSR 340 (Fires Creek) - Approximately 6 miles will be closed to motorized use beginning at a temporary gate that has been installed at the intersection of FSR 340 and FSR 340B (Little Fires Creek Road).
FSR 81-C (Whigg Branch) - Approximately 1.6 miles will be closed to motorized use beginning at the intersection of FSR 81 and FSR 81-C.
The segment of Tatham Gap Road is closed to all forms of use including foot, horse, motorized and non-motorized traffic. However, forest users may still access other road areas through non-motorized means, such as hiking, but should use great caution when approaching road slides.
For more information, contact Bill Champion at the Tusquitee Ranger Station at 828-837-5152.
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