Last summer’s heavy rains were an eye-opener for Asheville, causing unexpected landslides and undermining several roads on mountain slopes. Repairs are currently underway or in the planning stage for three impacted cases.
On Bent Tree Road, a residential street off Town Mountain Road, is home to one such site.
“All that rainfall washed fill out from under the road, and the road just sloughed away,” says project manager John Gavin. As a stopgap measure, the city put down “soldier piles,” or concrete barricades that served to convert the road into one lane and keep drivers away from the weakened part of the roadway. “But you didn’t want to get too close to the edge,” Gavin says.
Now, work is underway to restore the road and build a retaining wall to hold it in place. The project consists of approximately 100 feet of retaining wall and wire mesh, and anchors will be sunk under the road and into the hillside to support the wall.
“This is really the only thing appropriate for this site,” Gavin said.
The project, expected to take three months to complete, is eligible for reimbursement by FEMA, an option triggered by the governor’s declaration of a state of emergency in 2013. Another repair on Sunset Drive is also eligible for FEMA funds, while a third repair at Finlee Avenue will be funded through the city’s repaving budget. Bent Tree Road will be closed at the construction site for the duration of the project. Work on Sunset Drive is anticipated to begin later this fall.
“These are roads along steep grades, and are used frequently by surrounding residents. So we’re working to get them back to 100 percent,” Gavin said.