Foam injections help NCDOT reopen I-95 after flooding from Hurricane Florence

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Updated Oct 17, 2018
Workers inject polyurethane foam into holes on I-95 to stabilize the interstate after flooding from Hurricane Florence. Photo: NCDOTWorkers inject polyurethane foam into holes on I-95 to stabilize the interstate after flooding from Hurricane Florence. Photo: NCDOT

Hurricane Florence turned large sections of Interstates 95 and 40 into rivers, cutting off major north-south and east-west connections in the eastern part of the state.

I-95 had been flooded for about 100 miles for nearly a week when floodwaters finally receded. North Carolina Department of Transportation workers and a contracting crew then immediately began making repairs. One of the tools in their kit was a polyurethane foam, which they had used after previous hurricanes had wreaked havoc on state highways. See the video below:

The crews drilled holes in pavement near two flooded bridges at the Lumber and Black rivers. The foam was injected into the holes. It hardens and stabilizes the ground beneath the road making a permanent repair to any holes that have formed underneath, NCDOT says.

The process helped the DOT open the interstate at 10:30 p.m. September 23, three days sooner than expected.

NCDOT reports that 80 employees also quickly removed 100 barricades, 500 cones, 600 drums and other equipment between Lumberton and Rocky Mount. NCDOT had help from various other state agencies and the Virginia Highway Patrol to reroute traffic to detours to western North Carolina during the closure.

The next day, NCDOT was repairing I-40, which had cut off the city of Wilmington and other nearby towns for miles due to the Cape Fear River overflowing its banks.

Crews immediately performed emergency repairs and repaving for the reopening.

At one point after the storm, North Carolina had 1,600 roads closed because of Florence. On September 27, the total number of closures was down to less than 300, according to NCDOT.

For a more detailed look at the NCDOT’s response to Florence, see the video below: