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
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 is considering three build options – referred to as alternatives – for implementation. Each would be designed to best fit within the existing right of way limits for I-26 to the greatest extent possible.

  • Build Alternative 1 (Six-Lane Widening) would widen I-26 to three lanes in each direction from U.S. 25 to I-40/240.
  • Build Alternative 2 (Eight-Lane Widening) would widen I-26 to four lanes in each direction from U.S. 25 to I-40/240.
  • Build Alternative 3 (Hybrid Six/Eight-Lane Widening) would widen I-26 to three lanes in each direction between U.S. 25 and the I-26/U.S. 25 (Asheville Highway) interchange. It would widen I-26 to four lanes in each direction from the I-26/U.S. 25 (Asheville Highway) interchange to the I-40/240 interchange.

Best-fit alignments, or asymmetrical widening, have been evaluated and selected to improve the existing highway alignment, minimize impacts and accommodate maintenance of traffic during construction.

Preferred Alternative

After considering the purpose and need for widening I-26, as well as the cost, design and impacts on the human and natural environment, NCDOT and the Federal Highway Administration identified the Hybrid 6/8-Lane Widening as the best build alternative – also referred to as the Preferred Alternative.

In addition to widening the roadway, the Preferred Alternative involves modifying the existing interchange at U.S. 25 (Asheville Highway) to a partial cloverleaf design.

Work would also involve replacing the existing bridge that carries Blue Ridge Parkway over I-26. The columns supporting the bridge deck of the existing bridge are spaced in such a way that there is no space for widening I-26 underneath the bridge.

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 August 2016
Public hearing Oct. 13, 2016
Final Environmental Impact Statement & Record of Decision Spring 2017
Begin right of way acquisition Fiscal Year 2018
Begin construction Fiscal Year 2020

* Future dates are preliminary and subject to change

Project Documents

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

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.