Shared by IRPO–Speed Limits Changing in I-26 Work Zones

ASHEVILLE –The N.C. Department of Transportation has reduced the speed limit in work zone areas of Interstate 26 between I-40 in Buncombe County and U.S. 64 in Henderson County. The speed limit has been reduced to 55 mph in areas where lanes have been narrowed, bridge work is taking place or the contractor is performing other work.

The speed limit will remain at 60 mph where no work taking place and lanes have not been narrowed. “The speed limit reductions should raise awareness of those traveling through the work zone,” Division 13 Assistant Construction Engineer Nathan Moneyham said. “It is critical for drivers to slow down and be alert, especially when there are construction activities and backups.”

The limits on I -26 are as follows:
•    I-26 East from I-240/I-40/I-26 interchange to Exit 37, Long Shoals Road, will be posted 55 mph.
•    I-26 East from Exit 37, Long Shoals Road, to the Henderson County line will remain 60 mph.
•    I-26 East from the Henderson County Line to Exit 49, Four Seasons Boulevard, will be posted 55 mph.
•    I-26 West from Exit 49, Four Seasons Boulevard, to the Henderson County line will be posted 55 mph.
•    I-26 West from the Henderson County line to approximately ½ mile prior to Exit 33, Brevard Road, will remain 60 mph.
•    I-26 West through the current Brevard Road interchange project to I-240/I-40/I-26 interchange will remain 55 mph. 

In the six years from 2012 to 2018, more than 35,600 crashes and 173 deaths occurred in work zones in North Carolina. Last year alone, there were more than 7,300 work zone crashes, and 32 people died.

Safe and efficient work zones begin with proper planning design and implementation. But drivers must watch for changing conditions and exercise caution when they approach and drive through work zones. Driving on I-26 in the coming years will be no different.

Everyone from project planners and designers to motorcycle, car and truck drivers, along with passengers and law enforcement officers have a responsibility to keep the work zone safe by performing their roles. 

Driver-related factors that affect work zone crashes include speeding, distractions, inattentive driving and aggressive driving. Rear-end crashes are the most common collisions in work zones, and often those are the result of following too close or in combination with distracted driving. 

“The signs remind drivers of the new speed limits and to be careful in the work zone,” Division 14 construction engineer Ted Adams said. “Everybody maintaining the speed limit, paying attention to their driving and being aware of their surroundings will help each individual driver and everybody else on the interstate too.”

Drivers should…
•    Be patient
•    Prepare for delays by leaving early
•    Stay alert and be aware of surroundings
•    Pay attention to new traffic patterns
•    Turn on headlights to increase vehicle visibility
•    Eliminate in-car distractions
•    Maintain the posted speed limit Additional statistics from 2018
•    74 percent of work zone crashes occurred on clear days
•    10 percent of work zone crashes occurred in rainy conditions
•    73 percent of work zone crashes during daylight hours
•    4 percent of work zone crashes occurred at dawn or dusk
•    71 percent of work zone crashes resulted in property damage only
•    20 percent of work zone crashes resulted in minor injuries
•    Buncombe County had 145 work zone crashes, which ranked 9th in the state
•    Henderson County had 30 work zone crashes, which ranked 29th 

For real-time travel information, visit DriveNC.gov or follow NCDOT on social media.

Shared by IRPO–Fall Family Safety Tips for Drivers, Pedestrians, and Cyclists

RALEIGH – As nights grow longer and days get shorter, the N.C. Department of Transportation is offering important safety tips to keep your family safe as the seasons change. Remember to:
  • Always watch for children
    • Pay special attention to children near bus stops
    • Look out for trick-or-treaters on Halloween
    • Remind children about how to safely cross the street and watch for cars
  • Look out for bicyclists and pedestrians 
    • Remember to always wear reflective gear while biking or running 
    • Drivers should share the road with bicyclists and pedestrians 
  • Be aware of deer and wildlife 
    • Pay attention when driving near wood-lined areas 
    • Stay alert as wildlife are most active at dusk and dawn ‘
  • Use your headlights during morning and evening hours 
    • If you are in doubt, keep your headlights on 
    • Remember to turn on your headlights when using your windshield wipers
  • Follow simple photo safety rules
    • For your safety and others, never take pictures while driving
    • While often inviting, never take pictures on train tracks or bridges
  • Always buckle up Every person.
    • Every seat. Every time.

For more information on all these programs and initiatives, visit the safety page on NCDOT.gov/.

***NCDOT***

Shared by IRPO–Build NC Funds Applied to Rutherfordton Bypass

Start of construction targeted for next summer

ASHEVILLE – The N.C. Department of Transportation recently informed local officials in Rutherford County that two projects to construct the U.S. 221 Rutherfordton Bypass have been placed on the 2020 Build N.C. bond issuance list.

The announcement allows for preliminary engineering and right-of-way negotiations to resume after being suspended due to statewide cost constraints several weeks ago. 

This construction project will build a new four-lane highway with a median and three interchanges between U.S. 74 and Roper Loop Road. The section from Charlotte Road to Roper Loop Road will have a contract awarded in July 2020 followed within weeks by the start of construction at an estimated construction cost of $92 million.

The section from U.S. 74 to Charlotte Road is scheduled for right-of-way acquisition in June of 2020 and construction beginning in 2023, with an estimated construction cost of $97 million. 

Build N.C. is a financing tool that helps ensure NCDOT can continue strong delivery of critical road projects at the regional and division tiers that do not qualify for a similar federal funding tool. 

“We know this new highway will provide a safer and quicker transportation route for thousands of people who live and work in Rutherford and the surrounding counties,” Division 13 Assistant Construction Engineer Nathan Moneyham said. “This is an excellent use of Build N.C. funds. It’s anexcellent example of funding a local project that will help a lot of people.” 

***NCDOT***

Shared by IRPO–Bridge Replacement Starting in Rutherford County

New span replacing old structure


RUTHERFORDTON – A contractor for the N.C. Department of Transportation will replace a 56-year-old bridge in Rutherford County beginning on Monday, Sept. 9. Pilgrim Road will be closed to through traffic while crews from R.E. Burns & Sons Inc., replace the bridge over Webb’s Creek at a cost of $520,000.

NCDOT officials expect the road between Ellenboro and Forest City to reopen by next September. The old bridge is outdated, has a low posted weight limit and components that have deteriorated over the years. Through traffic will be detoured on a combination of U.S. 74 Business and Oak Grove Church Road.

Shared by IRPO–NCDOT Releases Draft Plan to Boost Electric Vehicle Registrations

RALEIGH – The N.C. Department of Transportation is seeking public comments on a draft N.C. Zero-Emission Vehicle Plan the agency is developing to boost the number of electric vehicles on the road. People can review the plan and provide feedback on this NCDOT webpage until 5 p.m. Sept. 6.

The draft plan is the result of Gov. Roy Cooper last fall issuing Executive Order No. 80, which is a commitment to address climate change and transition to a clean energy economy.

The governor’s order called upon the NCDOT to develop a N.C. Zero-Emission Vehicle Plan to increase the number of zero-emission vehicles registered in this state to 80,000 by 2025. When Executive Order 80 was signed, more than 6,000 fully electric vehicles were registered in North Carolina.

Zero-emission vehicles (ZEV) are fully electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles. Depending upon the specific technology, these vehicles have no or significantly reduced tailpipe emissions compared with conventional vehicles.

“DOT has created this draft plan with clear and measurable strategies, in order for our state to lead the nation in embracing zero-emission technologies,” said Transportation Secretary Jim Trogdon.

NCDOT is releasing today the draft version of its North Carolina ZEV Plan. The plan summarizes the research the department has done and the public input from online surveys and workshops it has received since January. It also highlights important issues and action areas for achieving 80,000 registered, zero-emission vehicles by 2025. One example is how to increase the number of electric vehicle charging stations along major routes and at retail centers.

“We’ve been studying some important issues that will need to be addressed under the governor’s executive order,” said Colin Mellor, an NCDOT environmental policy analyst helping coordinate the department’s ZEV plan. “We need the public and other stakeholders to confirm we have heard their points of view, and to let us know if there are any other issues we should consider as we finalize the plan.”

The plan highlights four categories of activities the state will need to pursue to comply with the governor’s executive order. Those categories are:

  • Promoting public awareness and education about electric vehicles;
  • Enhancing the convenience of operating and recharging a ZEV;
  • Reducing the upfront costs of a ZEV; and
  • Considering policy changes that promote the use of electric vehicles.

The final plan will be submitted to the governor at the North Carolina Climate Change Interagency Council meeting on Sept. 27.

Shared by IRPO–N.C. Transportation Board Adopts Complete Streets Resolution

RALEIGH – The N.C. Department of Transportation is improving its policy that focuses on evaluating every mode of travel for projects. The changes will enhance the safety and efficiency of the state’s transportation network. Members of the N.C. Board of Transportation on Thursday unanimously adopted a resolution in support of implementing amendments to the department’s Complete Streets policy. NCDOT adopted the Complete Streets policy in 2009.

The policy directs transportation engineers and planners to take into account and incorporate different types of transportation into road projects, where feasible. The various transportation modes include driving, walking, biking, rail, aviation, and public transit. The board’s vote on Thursday supports NCDOT’s ongoing efforts to update and implement improvements to the Complete Streets policy.   

“The goal is a policy that does a better job considering different forms of transportation as projects are being developed – and not just considered at the end of project development,” Transportation Secretary Jim Trogdon told the board on Thursday. Trogdon recognized members of a technical team who have been working over the past year to improve the department’s Complete Street policy. “This team helped us move toward turning that goal into reality – to build projects people need, want and will use,” Trogdon said.

The board’s action Thursday will lead to an improved internal process for planning and constructing transportation projects and, ultimately, reduce fatal crashes and pedestrian deaths as part of the department’s Vision Zero initiative.