In late October, the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) released the results of a draft environmental impact study (DEIS) and recommended alternatives to their highly-anticipated I-26 Connector project.
The I-26 Connector Project is an approximately 7-mile interstate freeway project proposed to connect I-26 in southwest Asheville to US 19-23-70 in northwest Asheville. According to the NCDOT, the proposed I-26 Connector in Asheville includes three sections:
- Section A: Includes upgrading existing I-240 from the I-26/I-240 interchange with I-40 to the I-240 interchange with Patton Avenue, west of the French Broad River. This includes upgrades to the Brevard Road, Amboy Road and Haywood Road interchanges.
- Section B: Includes construction of the interstate on new a location from the Patton Avenue interchange north across the French Broad River, tying into US 19-23-70 south of Broadway.
- Section C: Includes improvements to the I-40 interchanges with Smokey Park Highway, I-26/I-240 and Brevard Road.
The NCDOT is scheduled to select a preferred alternative for the connector the winter of 2015-16.
The estimated cost of the connector project would be $600 million to $800 million, depending on alternative chosen. Property acquisition would begin in 2019 with a construction start date in 2021.
Where to get more information
The NCDOT has launched an I-26 Connector Asheville page.
Public meeting and input
The NCDOT will take public comment at a Nov. 16 open house and public hearing. The meeting at the Renaissance Asheville Hotel, 31 Woodfin St., will begin with an open house from 4 to 6:30 p.m. followed by a formal presentation and public hearing beginning at 7 p.m.
The public can also submit public comment a variety of other ways through Dec. 16, including through the DOT’s website.
Other ways to give input
- Public involvement overview
- NCDOT online engagement tool, EngageNCDOT
- Live webinar: Will be offered during the Nov. 16 public hearing for people who wish to participate but cannot be there in person.
- Written comments: Will be received through Dec. 16. Send them to Drew Joyner, firstname.lastname@example.org or NCDOT Human Environment Section, 1598 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699. Or call 1-800-233-6315.
City of Asheville’s role
Asheville Transportation Director Ken Putnam and his staff are studying the proposals closely with an eye particularly on multimodal transportation aspects that could be incorporated into the connector project.
Asheville City Council is scheduled to hear comments from staff and the Multimodal Transportation Commission regarding the multimodal components of the proposal and alternatives at its Dec. 8 meeting. Council will determine the City’s official comments to NCDOT on the project at that time.
The NCDOT site notes that the City of Asheville has multiple plans to address bicycle and pedestrian accommodations throughout the City:
“In harmony with these plans, a greenway is proposed along Section A and all of the Section B alternatives. The greenway begins at Haywood Road and will follow the I-26 improvements in Section B, where it merges with Patton Avenue to cross the French Broad River and ties to the nearby streets, providing access to downtown Asheville.
In addition, the proposed designs include multiple connections throughout the project area to existing sidewalks, bike paths or transit routes.”
City staff and leaders are studying these latest NCDOT plans to ensure opportunities for multimodal enhancements are brought to the attention of the DOT in this project.
Time stamps for I-26 Connector video
1:45 Overview of the I-26 connector project
4:40 Description of the three sections of the project
4:46 Section C, alternative F1: adding 2 connections to I-40 at the I-26/I-40/I-240 interchange
(there are 4 alternatives being considered for this section, but only F1 is shown in the video)
5:57 Section A: widening 240 and three interchange upgrades from west of Brevard Rd to just North of Haywood Rd. (only alternative being considered).
Section B: extends I-240 across French Broad River
7:33 Alternative 3: Separates I-240 and I-26
9:16 Alternative 3C: Modification of Alt 3 to reduce footprint
11:14 Alternative 4: Separates I-240 from local traffic
13:55 Alternative 4B: another option to separate I-240 from local traffic