ASHEVILLE – A new Interstate 26 interchange will feature a left exit and entrance for one direction of traffic while providing a new east-west connection in southern Buncombe County.
Officials from the N.C. Department of Transportation, the Federal Highway Administration and other agencies considered public input and recently selected a general design from three alternatives. The selected alternative is the least environmentally damaging practical alternative for both the human and natural environments.
“Development of this project is moving quickly because the state legislature approved $30 million in funding and assigned us with the task of creating the new interchange,” Division 13 Engineer Mark Gibbs said. “This project has bipartisan support and we are optimistic that construction can begin in late spring or early summer of 2023.”
The project, located near mile marker 35 on I-26, includes a new access road to connect Frederick Law Olmsted Way East, currently under construction by the private developer, which connects to Brevard Road (N.C. 191). It will provide access to current and future growth in the area and relieve congestion at the Long Shoals and Brevard Road exits.
Traffic heading west on I-26 will utilize the on and off ramp from the left lane, similar to three other interchanges in Asheville — I-26 West to I-40 West, I-240 East to I-26 West, and I-240 West to Chunns Cove Road. Traffic on I-26 East will have a traditional exit and entrance on the right. Engineers are developing detailed plans in advance of construction.
“The FHWA, our consultants and other stakeholders are in agreement that a left-hand exit will operate well at this location,” Gibbs said. “This alternative minimizes impacts to the Biltmore Estate property, wetlands and streams.”