Asheville Transportation Department Director Ken Putnam (center, above) brought staff and members of the Multimodal Transportation Commission together for a work session Nov. 6 to study the NCDOT’s I-26 Connector plans.
In late October, the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) released the results of a draft environmental impact study (DEIS) and recommended alternatives to their highly-anticipated I-26 Connector project.
The main purpose of the work session was to review the DEIS, as staff is charged with bringing a recommendation regarding the I-26 Connector plans for official comment by City Council at its Dec. 8 meeting. Council will determine the City’s official comments to NCDOT on the project at that time. The NCDOT assigned Dec. 16 as the deadline for comments on the project.
“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.
Public meeting and input
The NCDOT will take public comment on the I-26 Connector at a Nov. 16 open house and public hearing. The meeting at the Renaissance Asheville Hotel, 31 Woodfin St., will begin with an open house from 4 to 6:30 p.m. followed by a formal presentation and public hearing beginning at 7 p.m.
The public can also submit public comment a variety of other ways through Dec. 16, including through the DOT’s website.
Other ways to give input
- Public involvement overview
- NCDOT online engagement tool, EngageNCDOT
- Live webinar: Will be offered during the Nov. 16 public hearing for people who wish to participate but cannot be there in person.
- Written comments: Will be received through Dec. 16. Send them to Drew Joyner, firstname.lastname@example.org NCDOT Human Environment Section, 1598 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699. Or call 1-800-233-6315.
Where to get more information
The NCDOT has launched an I-26 Connector Asheville page.