In late October, the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) released the results of a draft environmental impact study (DEIS) and recommended alternatives to the highly-anticipated I-26 Connector project.
Asheville Transportation Department Director Ken Putnam and his staff, along with members of the Multimodal Transportation Commission, have been studying the I-26 Connector plans. They have attended the NCDOT’s Nov. 16 public meeting and held two work sessions about the connector at City Hall.
At Asheville City Council’s Dec. 8 meeting, Transportation staff will make a presentation to council regarding the I-26 Connector. Throughout the process, City staff has focused on multimodal aspects of the plan, particularly where Complete Streets enhancements may be incorporated.
City Council will determine the City’s official comments to NCDOT on the project. Council will hear public comment on the I-26 Connector, though there will not be a formal public hearing on the matter. Consideration of Council’s policy position regarding the I-26 Connector will be on the Dec. 8 meeting agenda.
“From the City’s standpoint I think the City will lean toward its March 2014 resolution, which addresses multimodal aspects of the project,” said Putnam.
City Resolution 14-54, which was a joint resolution with Buncombe County Board of Commissioners, recommended that the “NCDOT clearly include elements that will address community needs for sound barriers and bicycle, pedestrian and neighborhood connections, including location, design and the funding methodology of associated infrastructure elements.”
The I-26 Connector Project is an approximately 7-mile interstate freeway project proposed to connect I-26 in southwest Asheville to US 19-23-70 in northwest Asheville. According to the NCDOT, the proposed I-26 Connector in Asheville includes three sections:
- Section A: Includes upgrading existing I-240 from the I-26/I-240 interchange with I-40 to the I-240 interchange with Patton Avenue, west of the French Broad River. This includes upgrades to the Brevard Road, Amboy Road and Haywood Road interchanges.
- Section B: Includes construction of the interstate on new a location from the Patton Avenue interchange north across the French Broad River, tying into US 19-23-70 south of Broadway.
- Section C: Includes improvements to the I-40 interchanges with Smokey Park Highway, I-26/I-240 and Brevard Road.
The NCDOT is scheduled to select a preferred alternative for the connector the winter of 2015-16.
The estimated cost of the connector project would be $600 million to $800 million, depending on alternative chosen. Property acquisition would begin in 2019 with a construction start date in 2021.
Ways to give input
- Written comments: Will be received through Dec. 16. Send them to Drew Joyner, email@example.com or NCDOT Human Environment Section, 1598 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699. Or call 1-800-233-6315.
- Public involvement overview
Where to get more information
The NCDOT has launched an I-26 Connector Asheville page.