NCDOT announces I-26 bridge repair project in Madison County: Will it impact traffic?
MARS HILL - Residents driving on Future Interstate 26 from Mars Hill to the Tennessee border may experience some lane closures, according to a Feb. 1 release from the N.C. Department of Transportation.
DOT will embark on an interstate maintenance project that is slated to start in the coming weeks, according to the release. The project is expected to be completed in September 2024.
The project will see crews from Buckeye Bridge, a general contractor based in Canton, rehabilitate bridges and replace drainage boxes from the Tennessee state line to the U.S. 19 interchange at Exit 9.
The first phase will include repairing joints on the bridge over Big Laurel Road — one of the tallest bridges in North Carolina — near the Wolf Laurel exit, Exit 3.
Additional tasks in the project include removing and replacing bridge decks, painting steel beams and other necessary updates.
Traffic impacts will be minimal during most travel times due to the three existing lanes in both directions and an average of less than 10,000 vehicles per day, according to the DOT's Annual Average Daily Traffic statistics.
David Uchiyama is a communications officer for DOT.
"With three lanes, even if one lane is closed, at an average of 10,000 vehicles a day, traffic should still move very smoothly," Uchiyama said. "(That average) is so, so few compared to what the traffic counts are in Buncombe County and the further south you go."
According to Uchiyama, in 2019, Exit 9 through Exit 3 saw an annual average daily traffic rate of 12,500 vehicles. In 2020, that number dipped to 10,500 vehicles per day.
Heading north of Exit 3 to the Tennessee state line, the 2019 average was 10,500 vehicles per day, while the 2020 average was 8,800 vehicles.
"Those are the most recent traffic counts NCDOT has taken," Uchiyama said.
However, lane closures will still be necessary for the safety of drivers and contract crew members, according to NCDOT.
The contract was awarded to Buckeye Bridge in fall 2022, Uchiyama said.
Transportation officials remind drivers to remain alert, merge early, and obey all posted traffic signs.
This article originally appeared on Asheville Citizen Times: I-26 bridge repair project to begin in Madison County in coming weeks