After the N.C. Department of Transportation advertised the section of the I-26 widening that begins at U.S. 64 (Exit 49) to N.C. 280 (Exit 40) in March 2002 as a design-build project, a lawsuit was filed against both NCDOT and the Federal Highway Administration. In 2003, a court determined that NCDOT should conduct a broader analysis of the cumulative environmental impacts and logical termini (project limits) of the overall expansion of the I-26 corridor. The project was subsequently placed on hold due to financial constraints.
Project Moves Forward
Because of the growing needs for improvements to the I-26 corridor, NCDOT reinitiated the project in 2013 and included it in the State Transportation Improvement Program, NCDOT's 10-year plan that identifies the construction funding for and scheduling of transportation projects.
To comply with the court’s 2003 order, NCDOT combined the analysis of the I-4400 section of the project with the analysis of the I-4700 section into one comprehensive Environmental Impact Statement.
August 2016: Draft Environmental Impact Statement Approved
On Aug. 12, 2016, the Federal Highway Administration approved the Draft Environmental Impact Statement, which includes information about the direct and indirect effects the proposed project could have on the human and natural environments. NCDOT included this data in the Draft Environment Impact Statement and public feedback to identify the best lane-design alternative for the proposed improvements.
July 2019: Construction Contract Awarded for Section of I-26 Widening Project
Fluor-United Joint Venture of Greenville, S.C., was awarded the contract to widen I-26 from Brevard Road to the Henderson County line near Airport Road with a bid of $263 million.
October 2019: Contract Awarded for Second Section of I-26 Widening
A partnership team of Archer-Western and Wright Brothers Construction — Archer-Wright Joint Venture — received the contract for widening I-26 to eight lanes from Airport Road at the Buncombe County line to U.S. 25 Business at the Mountain Home exit, and six lanes from there to U.S. 64 at the Four Seasons Boulevard exit in Hendersonville.
Oct. 15, 2019: Construction Begins
Contractors closed the eastbound outside lane between the French Broad River and Long Shoals to begin nighttime work to remove reflective markers, existing stripes and to install new lanes, followed by the installation of safety barriers in preparation for the beginning of construction activities with heavy equipment in the following weeks.