ASHEVILLE – Interstate 26 West drivers will be driving on old eastbound lanes starting Thursday morning.
A contractor for the N.C. Department of Transportation will close a section of I-26 overnight to complete a significant traffic shift from Airport Road to Long Shoals Road that signals the start of a new construction phase in Buncombe County.
“Everything the contractor has done in Buncombe County to this point has been to facilitate the construction of the four permanent westbound lanes,” Division 13 Construction Engineer Nathan Moneyham said. “While this is an important milestone for the project, this is just one of many significant steps in the construction process.”
I-26 west will be closed from U.S. 64 (Exit 49) to Long Shoals Road (Exit 37) starting no earlier than 8 p.m. tonight. Crews in Buncombe County will perform the final tasks preparing for the shift, while crews in Henderson County prepare for an upcoming smaller lane shift. All lanes should reopen by 6 a.m.
Drivers will notice the shift of westbound traffic onto old eastbound lanes prior to Airport Road and continue on the old lanes up to Long Shoals Road. Along the way, drivers will cross over Glen Bridge Road on a new bridge and other new construction along the route.
Drivers will also notice a new temporary exit ramp from I-26 West to Airport Road. Westbound traffic will remain in this pattern for approximately 18 months, until the new westbound lanes are functional. On Wednesday night, drivers will be detoured onto routes where traffic signals will be modified to handle increased traffic.
I-26 West drivers will be detoured to U.S. 64 West at Exit 49, then to U.S. 25 North (Asheville Highway/Hendersonville Road) then to N.C. 141 (Long Shoals Road).
The widening of I-26 from Brevard Road to U.S. 64 is an $800 million project that will provide safe and efficient regional travel. The project also improves permanent structures including bridge and drainage as well as the entire pavement structure.
Transportation officials advise drivers remain alert and to obey all posted traffic signs in work zones.