Project Map
I-26 Widening Vicinity Map
Project Fast Facts
  • Status: Projects Under Development
  • County: Buncombe, Henderson
  • Type of Project: Widening
  • STIP Numbers: I-4400/I-4700
  • Estimated Costs: $6 million for right-of-way; $392 million for construction
  • Property Acquisition Start: Fiscal Year 2018
  • Start Date: 2019
Photos & Videos
I-26 Widening Project Visualizations

I-26 Widening Project Visualizations

I-26 Widening Flyover

Related Links
I-26 Widening Board logo

Project Overview and Purpose

To help provide for high-speed, safe and efficient travel, the N.C. Department of Transportation proposes widening approximately 22.2 miles of I-26 from U.S. 25, near Hendersonville, to I-40/240, south of Asheville.

The project is divided into two project sections:

  • Section I-4400 is a 13.6-mile stretch that begins at U.S. 25 (Exit 54) near Hendersonville, and extends along I-26 west to N.C. 280 (Exit 40).
  • Section I-4700 is an 8.6-mile stretch that extends along I-26 from N.C. 280 west to the I-40/240 interchange. In addition to widening, work will also involve replacing the Blue Ridge Parkway Bridge over I-26.

Widening I-26 in the area would help improve existing and projected deficiencies when it comes to roadway capacity.

Sections of I-26 currently operate at levels of congestion characterized by unstable travel speeds with a high level of discomfort to the driver. As projected traffic volumes increase, more sections of I-26 are projected to operate at similar levels of congestion. By 2040, I-26 is anticipated to operate over capacity, hindering its ability to serve high-speed regional travel.

The project would also improve insufficient pavement structure and deteriorating existing road surface conditions. The existing roadway surface on I-26 in the project area has twice, most recently in 2011, undergone major rehabilitation.

Project Highlights

NCDOT and the Federal Highway Administration have confirmed that the Preferred Alternative – for the proposed project – is one called the Hybrid 6/8-Lane Widening Alternative. It involves widening I-26 to three lanes in each direction between U.S. 25 and the I-26/U.S. 25 (Asheville Highway) interchange and also widening I-26 to four lanes in each direction from the U.S. 25 (Asheville Highway) to the I-40/I-240 interchange.

The decision is a result of a thorough review of the results of the impact assessment for the three widening alternatives documented in the study’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement. The decision was also based on an assessment of the comments made on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement by local governments, government agencies, non-government organizations and the public.

The Hybrid 6/8-Lane Alternative is the Preferred Alternative because it meets the project's purpose and need of reducing congestion and it has the fewest impacts to the community and environment. The Preferred Alternative was also identified as the Least Environmentally Damaging Practicable Alternative by environmental agency partners.

U.S. 25 Interchange

During a public comment period in October 2016, NCDOT heard concerns from citizens that proposed interchange improvements at U.S. 25 (Asheville Highway, Exit 44) would result in a footprint that had too many impacts to homes and businesses.

NCDOT is now studying alternatives that will reduce the footprint. The two options under consideration are:

Project History

Legal Issues

After NCDOT advertised the I-4400 project 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 State Transportation Improvement Program, NCDOT's 10-year transportation 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 I-4400 with the analysis of I-4700 into one comprehensive Environmental Impact Statement.

Aug. 12, 2016: Draft Environmental Impact Statement Approved

The Federal Highway Administration approved the Draft Environmental Impact Statement, allowing NCDOT to begin a public review period for the document and to schedule a public hearing.

The Draft Environmental Impact Statement includes information about the direct and indirect effects the proposed project could have on the human and natural environments. NCDOT will consider data included in the Draft Environment Impact Statement as well as public feedback to identify the best lane-design alternative for the proposed improvements.

Public Involvement

Public Hearing

NCDOT held an open house and public hearing Thursday, Oct. 13, 2016, at which time NCDOT representatives received public feedback and answered questions about the project.

The public was also invited to submit feedback on the project until Nov. 14, 2016.

The following maps and materials were available for review:

Documents and Maps

Public Meeting Materials

Project Timeline

Milestone Date*
I-4400 Environmental Assessment completed May 2001
I-4400 Finding of No Significant Impact completed January 2002
Project technical reports 2013 to 2016
Draft Environmental Impact Statement approved August 2016
Public hearing Oct. 13, 2016
Preferred alternative and Least Environmentally Damaging Practicable Alternative chosen Jan. 18, 2017
Final environmental document published Spring 2018
Right of way acquisition begins Fiscal Year 2018
Construction begins 2019

* Future dates are preliminary and subject to change

Project Documents

Project Newsletters

April 2017 Newsletter

August 2016 Draft Environmental Impact Statement and Draft Section 4(f) Evaluation

Draft Environmental Impact Statement and Draft Section 4(f) Evaluation


Appendix A (see Technical Reports below)

Appendix B

Appendix C

Appendix D

Appendix E

Appendix F

Appendix G

Appendix H

Appendix I

Appendix J

Appendix K

Appendix A: Technical Reports

August 2016 Public Hearing Maps

I-4400/I-4700 Public Hearing Map Sheet 1

I-4400/I-4700 Public Hearing Map Sheet 2

I-4400/I-4700 Public Hearing Map Sheet 3

I-4400/I-4700 Public Hearing Map Sheet 4

I-4400/I-4700 Public Hearing Map Sheet 5

I-4400/I-4700 Public Hearing Map Sheet 6

I-4400/I-4700 Public Hearing Map Sheet 7

I-4400/I-4700 Public Hearing Map Sheet 8

2013 Public Meeting Materials

I-4400/4700 Aerial-Citizens Informational Workshop  (January 2013)

I-4400/4700 Constraints-Citizens Informational Workshop (January 2013)

Citizens Informational Workshop Handout  (January 2013)

Contact Information

John Williams
Project Development Engineer
(919) 707-6178
Send a message
1548 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC, 27699-1548

Resources for Local Property Owners

Although the N.C. Department of Transportation works to minimize the number of homes and businesses displaced by a road project, it is inevitable, in many cases, that a certain amount of private property is needed. The following information explains right of way acquisition and answers questions about the process.