I-26 Connector, Asheville, NC
Public Information Website
The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT), proposes to construct an interstate highway to connect I-26 from the I-26/I-40/I-240 interchange southwest of Asheville, to US 19-23-70 north of Asheville. The connector will become part of a new interstate highway under construction near Sams Gap at the Tennessee state line. This new interstate will connect I-26 with I-81 south of Kingsport, Tennessee. The I-26 Connector is listed in the NCDOT's Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) as Project No. I-2513 and is currently in the project development and environmental analysis phase.
The proposed I-26 Connector in Asheville includes upgrading approximately 2.5 miles of 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. Improvements to the I-26/I-240 interchange with I-40 and Brevard Road (NC 191), Amboy Road (SR 3556), Haywood Road (SR 3548 & US 19-23 Business) and Patton Avenue (US 19-23) interchanges are included. From the Patton Avenue interchange, the freeway proceeds northward on new location for approximately 1.2 miles across the French Broad River to tie into US 19-23-70 south of Broadway Street (SR 1781). The project length from the I-40 interchange to Broadway Street (SR 1781) is approximately 5.1 miles.
Need for the Project
The need for the proposed action is summarized by the following existing and projected conditions:
A better transportation facility is needed to connect US 19-23 north of Asheville with I-26 south of Asheville. The construction of NCDOT TIP Project A-10 (US 19-23 improvements from Asheville to the Tennessee State Line) will allow motorists to travel on a fully controlled-access, median-divided freeway from I-81 near Kingsport, Tennessee to I-240 in Asheville. This route will eventually be designated as I-26 (see Figure 2). I-26 currently connects the port of Charleston, South Carolina with the mountains of North Carolina terminating at the I-26/I-40/I-240 interchange southwest of Asheville. I-240 west of Asheville, connects I-26 with US 19-23. This freeway, constructed in the 1960's, does not meet current interstate design standards. The existing interchange connecting US 19-23 from the north with I-240 contains sharply-curved, single-lane ramps. Freeway traffic using this interchange will be restricted to one lane in each direction which would cause traffic to queue onto I-240 at its most congested location in Asheville.
Increasing traffic volumes have substantially reduced the level of service along I-240 on the west side of Asheville. Several sections of I-240 currently operate at capacity, resulting in traffic delays and queuing on I-240. Traffic congestion and resulting delays will continue to worsen in the future as the population increases.
The construction of improvements to US 19-23 (NCDOT TIP Project A-10) project is anticipated to further increase traffic volumes along I-240 west of Asheville. This increase in traffic will further contribute to the congestion and delays presently being experienced along I-240.
I-240 needs safety improvements. Existing I-240 west of Asheville does not meet current interstate safety standards. I-240, west of Asheville, currently has a higher accident rate than the average rate for similar North Carolina facilities, demonstrating the need for safety improvements along this section of the facility.
Purpose of the Project
The primary purposes of the proposed action are:
To provide a freeway-to-freeway connection between I-26 south of Asheville and US 19-23 north of Asheville. The existing connection between US 19-23 from the north and I-240 follows sharply-curved, single-lane ramps that do not meet the design requirements for an interstate freeway.
To provide a link of a direct, multi-lane, freeway facility meeting interstate standards along the existing and future section of the I-26 corridor from the port of Charleston, South Carolina to I-81 in Kingsport, Tennessee.
To address identified capacity deficiencies based on existing and forecasted 2025 design year traffic in this growing area.
To reduce traffic delays and congestion along the I-240 French Broad River crossing which currently operates at capacity.
To increase the remaining useful service of the existing Smoky Park Bridges by substantially reducing the volume of traffic on this vital crossing of the French Broad River.
To improve the safety of I-240 on the west side of Asheville, which has a higher accident rate than the average rate for this type of facility in North Carolina.