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Storm-damaged US 401 reopens Friday, six weeks earlier than expected

Part of U.S. 401 in northern Wake Co. could be closed for weeks

The N.C. Department of Transportation will have to repair six closed roads in Wake County and two more in Franklin, including U.S. 401 just south of N.C. 98, after weekend storms caused flooding.
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The N.C. Department of Transportation will have to repair six closed roads in Wake County and two more in Franklin, including U.S. 401 just south of N.C. 98, after weekend storms caused flooding.

A section of U.S. 401 that was washed out after a torrential rain storm last month has been rebuilt and reopened Friday afternoon, according to the N.C. Department of Transportation.

Two sections of pavement were washed away by the Little River just south of N.C. 98 on June 8. The NCDOT estimated at the time that it would take until Aug. 31 to replace the washed out culverts with a bridge that would be less susceptible to flooding in the future.

Instead, NCDOT engineers worked with a contractor who was already planning to build the bridge to “fast-track” the project and get it done six weeks early, said department spokesman Marty Homan. He said contractors put down the final lane markings Friday afternoon.

The new bridge is part of a larger project to turn a six-mile stretch of 401 into a four-lane divided highway from Rolesville into Franklin County. The new highway isn’t expected to be completed until 2022.

U.S. 401 was one of several roads flooded or damaged after an intense storm dropped between 6 and 9 inches of rain between Rolesville and Youngsville on June 8. Four other roads, including a stretch of Mitchell Mill Road, near Quarry Road south of N.C. 96, remain closed because of damage from the storm.

Drivers using U.S. 401 have been directed on a detour that involves N.C. 96 and N.C. 98. Those detour signs are coming down now that the road has reopened.

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Richard Stradling covers transportation for The News & Observer. Planes, trains and automobiles, plus ferries, bicycles, scooters and just plain walking. Also, #census2020. He’s been a reporter or editor for 32 years, including the last 20 at The N&O. 919-829-4739, rstradling@newsobserver.com.
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