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Road damaged by Matthew sends drivers on 30-mile detour

Posted January 17

— Three months ago Hurricane Matthew hit North Carolina. Plenty of roads are still waiting for repairs, including a section of Highway 53 in southern Cumberland County. The detour around that short stretch of road takes drivers on a 30-mile journey.

David Faircloth has lived near Jessups Mill Pond since he was in the 4th grade. In October, Hurricane Matthew destroyed the earthen dam that created the pond.

The water also washed out a section of Highway 53 near the Bladen County line. Faircloth said the break has created a nightmarish detour for about 200 residents who need to travel into Fayetteville for medical and other reasons.

"You have to drive about 25 or 27 miles down into Bladen County, up through Cedar Creek, which is from where I'm standing, about 6 miles," he said.

Randy Wise, with the North Carolina Department of Transportation, said fixing the road is complicated. The State Wildlife Resources Commission owns the earthen dam that created the pond.

The water used to pass under Highway 53 through a culvert. Now the DOT thinks it's better to build a bridge.

"It's easier to fix a small-grading project or a small pipe replacement, Where it's a little more difficult and takes more time to get the contracts together and to get a contractor to go in and build a bridge,"

Wise said the contract for the project has been let and the bridge is being designed. But that's not easing the frustration of the folks who have been making the 30 mile detour for the past three months.

"I want the road fixed, and I want them to get started on it. And I want them to make it a priority," Faircloth said.

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