|ASHEVILLE – The N.C. Department of Transportation is saddling up for serious construction.The heavy lifting to build a new interchange at Interstate 26 and U.S. 74 in Polk County begins this month with the goal of providing a safer and smoother driving experience for all motorists, including visitors and participants of the 2018 World Equestrian Games.
“This is an important project to the area, one that has been needed for many years,” Acting Division 14 Engineer Brian Burch said. “We’re happy to get this project started and we’ll be working on an accelerated schedule to complete it prior to the World Games.”
The first phase of construction is to clear the project area in preparation of moving dirt and rocks and building embankments for the new roadway. A creek channel change and 353-foot long concrete box culvert will be constructed during the early stages.
The new interchange, at a cost of $19 million, will separate through traffic from local traffic and be completed by Aug. 17, 2018, in time for visitors from across the globe to enjoy an event that is comparable to the Olympics.
Vecellio & Grogan, Inc DBA Sharpe Brothers, based in Beckley, W.V., will be creating a direct merge lane from U.S. 74 West to I-26 East, which will eliminate the need for drivers to navigate two roundabouts. It will also build a new ramp from I-26 West to U.S. 74 and it will include two bridges and eight retaining walls.
Multiple operations will be performed at the same time in order to finish the job ahead of the completion date. There will be times in which work will be performed around the clock utilizing multiple crews.
Lane closures and lane shifts will be in place at various times during construction on both I-26 and U.S. 74. Drivers need to adjust their travel times, be aware in this work zone and obey all posted signs and flagging instructions.
“We are pleased to be improving area transportation in time for the World Games,” Burch said, “It’s also an improvement that will have a lasting positive impact on residents and visitors for many years to come.”