Project Map
Project Map

Project Overview Map

I-26 Connector Alternatives Maps Section A (9.7 MB)

I-26 Connector Alternatives Maps Section B (55.3 MB)

I-26 Connector Alternatives Maps Section C (46.9 MB)

I-26 Connector Alternative 3C Map (2.2 MB)

Project Fast Facts
  • Status: Projects Under Development
  • County: Buncombe
  • Type of Project: Widening and new location
  • STIP Number: I-2513
  • Estimated Cost: 400 to 600 million depending on alternative chosen
  • Property Acquisition Start: 2018
  • Start Date: 2020
I-26 Connector Logo

Description

The North Carolina Department of Transportation proposes the construction of a new interstate highway (TIP Project No. I-2513) to connect I-26 from the I-26/I-40/I-240 interchange southwest of Asheville to US 19-23-70 north of Asheville. This new interstate will connect I-26 with I-81 south of Kingsport, Tennessee. The I-26 Connector is currently in the project development and environmental analysis phase.

The proposed I-26 Connector in Asheville includes:

  • Upgrading 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 (N.C. 191), Amboy Road (S.R. 3556), Haywood Road (S.R. 3548/U.S. 19/23 Business) and Patton Avenue (U.S. 19-23) interchanges.
  • Construction of the interstate on new location from the Patton Avenue interchange north for 1.2 miles across the French Broad River, tying into US 19/23/70 south of Broadway Street (S.R. 1781). The project length from the I-40 interchange to Broadway Street is 5.1 miles.

News and Updates

In 2010 a new priority rating system was implemented by NCDOT. The new ranking of the I-26 Connector Project was much lower than its previous ranking and work was halted. In the fall of 2011, Governor Perdue announced a plan to accelerate Urban Loop projects around the state, including the I-26 project, using different funding options. At this time (Spring of 2012), the necessary funding is not available.

Post Public Hearing Meeting Minutes

The NCDOT has released the May 4, 2009 Meeting Minutes to Post Hearing Meeting. You can view it here.

I-26 Newsletters

The NCDOT has mailed newsletter No. 9 to everyone on the project mailing list.

Draft Environmental Impact Statement

The NCDOT has released the March 2008 Draft Environmental Impact Statement.

Alternatives Eliminated

Alternative 2 for section B of the project has been officially removed from alternatives being considered due to operational problems that appeared when the updated traffic forecast was prepared. On December 15, 2009, the project merger team unanimously agreed to remove Alternative 2 from section B.

Alternatives Added

Alternative 4B, a version of Alternative 4 that was requested for inclusion by the Asheville Design Center and the City of Asheville, was officially added at the same December 15, 2009 merger meeting that eliminated Alternate 2.

Alternative 3C, a slight modification of Alternative 3, was developed to further reduce impacts to the natural and human environments. Preliminary designs will be completed in March 2014 and the this alternative will be shown to the public at a Public Meeting in May 2014.

Public Involvement

The NCDOT has held numerous meetings with community leaders, local interest groups, business groups and the affected business owners and neighborhood groups about this project since 1989. For more information please see the Full Public Involvement Document.

Project Overview and Purpose

  • 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. While also providing a link in the transportation system connecting a direct, multi-lane, freeway facility meeting interstate standards from the Port of Charleston, South Carolina to I-81 near Kingsport, Tennessee.
  • To improve the capacity deficiencies of existing I-240 west of Asheville to accommodate the existing and forecasted (2030 design year) traffic in this growing area. And to improve the safety of I-240 on the west side of Asheville.
  • To reduce traffic delays and congestion along the I-240 crossing of the French Broad River 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.

Why is this action needed?

  • 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) allows motorists to travel on a fully controlled-access, median-divided freeway from I-81 near Kingsport, Tennessee to I-240 in Asheville (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.
  • 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.

Project Highlights

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 connecting to 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.

What type of road is proposed?

The proposed I-26 Connector will be a median-divided, fully controlled-access freeway. To reduce the required right-of-way, a barrier median dividing the directions of travel is proposed. Controlled-access means there will be no driveways or at-grade intersections (stop signs and traffic lights) along the route.

Environmental Study Process

The proposed I-26 Connector will involve state and federal funds. Any agency that proposes a project involving federal funds must comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). For more information please see the Environmental Study Process Document

Project History

In late 1995, NCDOT contracted with a private consulting firm to develop conceptual engineering plans and begin environmental studies for the proposed I-26 Connector. For more information please see the Full Project History Document

In 2010 a new priority rating system was implemented by NCDOT. The new ranking of the I-26 Connector Project was much lower than its previous ranking and work was halted. In the fall of 2011, Governor Perdue announced a plan to accelerate Urban Loop projects around the state, including the I-26 project, using different funding options. At this time (Spring of 2012), the necessary funding is not available.

Project Photos

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Contact Information

Michael Wray, P.E.
Project Planning Engineer, Central Unit

  • Email: Contact Us
  • Phone: (919) 707-6050
  • Address: 1548 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-1548

Resources for Local Property Owners

In many cases, it is inevitable that a certain amount of private property must be acquired. The displacement of homes and businesses is minimized to the extent practicable. The following brochures will answer questions about this process.