Work near I-26 next year, Howard Gap Road to follow
SALUDA – N.C. Department of Transportation officials have completed a condition assessment and developed preliminary plans to repair drainage infrastructure in a section of Polk County that includes Interstate 26 at a higher elevation and Howard Gap Road at a lower elevation. Severe storms in recent years have damaged drainage structures beside the interstate and a storm in January destroyed a section of Howard Gap Road. “The initial focus will be on the critical drainage components on I-26 because the stormwater drains down from I-26 to Howard Gap Road,” Division 14 District Engineer Lonnie Watkins said. Engineers are developing detailed design plans to repair or upgrade critical components of the drainage system on I-26. Transportation officials anticipate completing the plans this winter and awarding a contract next spring. Under that schedule, construction would take place next summer. During construction, engineers will create detailed plans to rebuild Howard Gap Road, add a new retaining wall and repair or upgrade drainage on that section of the road. Transportation officials anticipate awarding a contract in the spring of 2021 followed by construction that summer. “This course of action will provide stability to I-26 and a new road to residents in the Howard Gap area,” Watkins said. “Every day, these long-term projects will benefit thousands of people who drive in Polk County.”
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
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.”
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.