Interstate 26 in North Carolina

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This article is about the section of Interstate 26 in North Carolina. For the entire length of the highway, see Interstate 26.

Interstate 26 marker

Interstate 26
Route information
Maintained by NCDOT
Length: 49.0 mi (78.9 km)
Existed: 1966[1] – present
Major junctions
West end: I-26 / US 23 at the TN line near Faust
  US 19 / US 23A near Mars Hill
I‑40 / I‑240 / US 74 in Asheville

US 25 / US 25 Bus. in Fletcher
US 64 in Hendersonville
US 25 near East Flat Rock
US 74 in Columbus
East end: I‑26 at the SC line near Landrum, SC
Location
Counties: Madison, Buncombe, Henderson, Polk
Highway system
US 25 NC 27

Interstate 26 (I-26) runs between its terminus in Charleston, South Carolina, and Kingsport, Tennessee. I-26 is mostly four lanes through North Carolina with few exceptions. It goes through the Appalachian Mountains and crosses the Eastern Continental Divide and Asheville. I-26's original eastern terminus was I-40/I-240 in Asheville. Between 2003 and 2005, the road was extended further north into Tennessee. Along the segment from Mars Hill to Asheville there are FUTURE I-26 signs as some parts of the road have not yet to be upgraded to Interstate Highway standards.

Route description[edit]

I-26 in Polk County looking over Skyuka Mountain

I-26, in concurrency with US 23, enters the state at Sams Gap (elevation 3,760 feet (1,150 m)), from Tennessee. In the first 9 miles (14 km), designated as a scenic byway, it features mostly six travel lanes and three runaway truck ramps along its eastbound. The freeway is also parallels US 23A, which was the original route before 2006. At exit 9, I-26 ends and Future I-26 begins; US 19 also joins from Burnsville.

At Weaverville, Future I-26 merges with US 25/US 70, coming from Marshall; however, US 25 soon disembarks in Woodfin and continues south along Merrimon Avenue. Future I-26 enters Asheville, while parallel with the French Broad River, and merges with westbound I-240/US 74A, with US 19/US 23; US 70 ends its concurrency by going eastbound I-240/US 74A instead and an additional exit at the major interchange provides access to downtown Asheville via Patton Avenue.

Crossing the French Broad River along Capt. Jeff Bowen Bridge (originally Smokey Park Highway Bridge before 2012), Future I-26/I-240 promptly exits with two-lanes to the right (same for both directions) while US 19/US 23/US 74A continue along Patton Avenue (exit 3). The interchange also features warning lights for stop traffic ahead, common during rush hour traffic. Between Patton Avenue (exit 3) and Haywood Road (exit 2), Future I-26/I-240 shares hidden concurrency with US 19 Bus./US 23 Bus.

At the major interchange with I-40, both Future I-26 and I-240 end and I-26 begins again, with new concurrency with US 74. The interchange features left exit and entrances; while travelers along eastbound Future I-26/westbound I-240, access to eastbound I-40 is via NC 191 (Brevard Road - exit 1). Westbound I-40/US 74 continues on to Canton and Knoxville, eastbound I-40 provides access to nearby Biltmore Estate and further on to Hickory.

Near mile marker 36, the Blue Ridge Parkway crosses over I-26 with a 75.1-foot (22.9 m) clearance; access to the Blue Ridge Parkway is via NC 191 (exit 33).[2]

In Fletcher, I-26 goes by the Asheville Regional Airport (exit 40); 3.2 miles (5.1 km) later, US 25 rejoins (exit 44). In Hendersonville, it connects with US 64, which connect travelers to nearby Chimney Rock, Lake Lure and Brevard. Between mile markers 53 and 54, I-26 crosses the Eastern Continental Divide (elevation 2,130 feet (650 m)), at the Crest Road overpass (SR 1803). Near East Flat Rock, US 25 separates again towards Greenville; while I-26 goes southeasterly down along Dodging Hill and crosses over the Green River along Peter Guice Memorial Bridge, with a clearance of 235-foot (72 m) from the river, making it the highest bridge in North Carolina.[3]

At Howard Gap (elevation around 1,900 feet (580 m)), an additional truck lane is available on westbound I-26 for 3 miles (4.8 km). In Columbus, US 74 ends concurrency at exit 67, continuing east towards Shelby. At 71.4 miles (114.9 km) (combining I-26 and Future I-26), I-26 crosses the state line and into South Carolina.[4][5]

Aerial view of Asheville Regional Airport with I-26 is on the right

ADHS corridor B[edit]

I-26/US 23, from the Tennessee state line to I-40, is part of the Appalachian Development Highway System (ADHS), which is part of Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC). All 31.0 miles (49.9 km) of this section was authorized for ADHS funding and is officially completed. The entire section of I-26/US 23 along Corridor B boasts a four-to-six-lane freeway.[6]

Dedicated and memorial names[edit]

I-26 in North Carolina has one dedicated or memorialized section of freeway.

  • Liston B. Ramsey Freeway - official name of I-26, on the section that overlaps with US 23 in Madison.[7]

Scenic byways[edit]

I-26 is part of one scenic byway in the state (indicated by a Scenic Byways sign).[8]

I-26 Scenic Byway is an 9-mile (14 km) byway from the Tennessee state line to exit 9 (US 19/US 23A), near Mars Hill. I-26, in concurrency with US 23, traverses the entire length, known for its unspoiled views of the North Carolina Mountains.[8]

History[edit]

I-26 appeared in the original Interstate Highway plans running from Charleston to Asheville. The road was first mapped as an under construction highway from US 25 near Hendersonville north to NC 280 (current NC 146). The first segment opened in 1966 beginning at NC 280 to the US 25 connector near East Flat Rock. In 1969, I-26 was extended north to I-40 and the South Carolina segment was extended to NC 108 near Columbus. In 1973, I-26 was extended from the US 25 connector to Saluda. Three years later I-26 was connected. The segment from Saluda to NC 108 was completed. In 2003 it was decided to extended I-26 to the Tennessee state line where a freeway existed. I-26 was routed over I-240 and went along US 23 to the north where its current routing is today.

Building through Howards Gap[edit]

One of the hardest places to build I-26 was in Howards Gap. The work was delayed by numerous landslides along Miller Mountain and Tryon Peak. Special engineering had to be done to continue work on I-26 through the area. The most important part was controlling the soil and water on the mountains and surrounding areas. This was achieved by having several miles of underground pipes to drain the water along the road.

Future[edit]

In 2013, the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) reopened the idea of widening I-26 from Asheville to Flat Rock. The project had been planned 10 years ago but was stopped by legal challenges.

The I-26 connector has been planned to start in 2018. The project will upgrade I-240/I-26 from the I-40 interchange to Patton Avenue. The project will also improve the Brevard Road, Amboy Road, Haywood Road, and Patton Avenue interchanges, along with building a new freeway from the Patton Avenue interchange across the French Broad River and then to US 19/23/70 south of Broadway Street. The total project length is 5.1 miles (8.2 km).[9]

Another project, north of Patton Avenue to US 19/23A, will upgrade existing standards to interstate standards; by replacing bridges, adding highway width and shoulders. The project, needed so I-26 can fully be labeled along that stretch, is currently in development. The estimated cost is $184 million, with right-of-way acquisition starting in 2018.[10]

Exit list[edit]

County Location Mile km Old exit New exit Destinations Notes
Madison State line 0.0 0.0 I-26 west / US 23 north – Johnson City Crosses through Sam's Gap
  3.4 5.5 3 US 23A south – Wolf Laurel
  9.0 14.5 9 US 19 north / US 23A north – Burnsville, Spruce Pine North end of US 19 overlap
East end of I-26 and west end of Future I-26
Mars Hill 11 NC 213 – Mars Hill, Marshall Upgrade to interstate standards[10]
Buncombe   13 Forks of Ivy Upgrade to interstate standards[10]
  15 NC 197 – Jupiter, Barnardsville Upgrade to interstate standards[10]
Flat Rock 17 Flat Creek Upgrade to interstate standards[10]
Weaverville 18
US 19 Bus. south / Monticello Road – Weaverville
Upgrade to interstate standards[10]
19 US 25 north / US 70 west – Marshall, Weaverville Upgrade to interstate standards[10]
21 New Stock Road – Weaverville Upgrade to interstate standards[10]
Woodfin 23
US 25 / US 19 Bus. (Merrimon Avenue) – North Asheville, New Bridge
Upgrade to interstate standards[10]
24 Elk Mountain Road  Woodfin Upgrade to interstate standards[10]
Asheville 25 NC 251 – University of North Carolina at Asheville Upgrade to interstate standards[10]
Hill Street Upgrade to interstate standards[10]
I‑240 east / US 70 east / US 74A east / Patton Avenue Upgrade to interstate standards[9]
3B Westgate / Resort Drive Upgrade to interstate standards[9]
3A US 19 south / US 23 south / US 74A west (Patton Avenue) Upgrade to interstate standards[9]
2
US 19 Bus. south / US 23 Bus. south (Haywood Street) – West Asheville
Upgrade to interstate standards[9]
1C Amboy Road Upgrade to interstate standards[9]
1B NC 191 (Brevard Road) to I‑26 east / I‑40 Upgrade to interstate standards[9]
31.4 50.5 1B 31B I‑40 west / US 74 west – Canton, Knoxville West end of I-240/US 74 overlap
West end of I-26 and east end of Future I-26
31.9 51.3 1A 31A I‑40 east – Hickory, Biltmore Estate Westbound exit and eastbound entrance
33.0 53.1 2 33 NC 191 / Blue Ridge Parkway To Biltmore Square Mall
  37.7 60.7 6 37 NC 146 – Skyland To Biltmore Baptist Church
Arden 40.8 65.7 9 40 NC 280 – Asheville Regional Airport, Arden, Brevard To WNC Agriculture Center
Henderson   44.1 71.0 13 44
US 25 north / US 25 Bus. south – Fletcher, Mountain Home
North end of US 25 overlap
Hendersonville 49.9 80.3 18 49 US 64 – Hendersonville, Bat Cave Signed as exits 49A (east) and 49B (west)
53.4 85.9 22 53 Upward Road – Hendersonville
  54.4 87.5 23 54 US 25 south to US 176 / NC 225 – Greenville South end of US 25 overlap
Green River 56.5 90.9 Peter Guice Memorial Bridge
Polk Saluda 59.6 95.9 28 59 Holbert Cove Road
Columbus 66.5 107.0 36 67 US 74 east / NC 108 – Columbus, Rutherfordton, Tryon East end of US 74 overlap
State line 71.4 114.9 I‑26 east – Spartanburg
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi

See also[edit]


References[edit]

  1. ^ "I-26 Fact Sheet" (PDF). North Carolina Department of Transportation. June 21, 2008. Retrieved June 20, 2014. 
  2. ^ "Uglybridges.com: Blue Ridge Parkway over I-26". Retrieved June 29, 2014. 
  3. ^ "Bridgehunter.com: Peter Guice Memorial Bridge". Retrieved June 29, 2014. 
  4. ^ Google Inc. "Overview Map of I-26 in North Carolina". Google Maps (Map). Cartography by Google, Inc. https://maps.google.com/maps?saddr=I-26+W&daddr=Unknown+road&hl=en&sll=35.952633,-82.557213&sspn=0.017474,0.014892&geocode=FT0DGQIdJzka-w%3BFWCfJAIdODsU-w&mra=ls&t=h&z=10. Retrieved November 29, 2013.
  5. ^ "Guide to Geologic Points of Interest Along Interstate 26". North Carolina Geologic Survey. Retrieved November 29, 2013. 
  6. ^ "Status of Corridors in North Carolina" (PDF). Appalachian Regional Commission. September 30, 2013. Retrieved June 29, 2014. 
  7. ^ "North Carolina Memorial Highways and other Named Facilities" (PDF). North Carolina Department of Transportation. July 15, 2004. Retrieved November 30, 2013. 
  8. ^ a b "North Carolina Scenic Byways" (PDF). North Carolina Department of Transportation. Retrieved November 30, 2013. 
  9. ^ a b c d e f g "I-26 Connector, Asheville, NC". Project Details. North Carolina Department of Transportation. Retrieved December 14, 2013. 
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "US 19/23 (Future I-26) Improvements Project". Project Details. North Carolina Department of Transportation. Retrieved December 14, 2013. 

External links[edit]


Interstate 26
Previous state:
Tennessee
North Carolina Next state:
South Carolina