US 74/I-26 interchange passes state level for improvement

Published 10:32 pm Thursday, August 20, 2015

by Leah Justice

A project to create separate exits for US 74 from I-26 in Columbus has been approved by the state of North Carolina and is now awaiting federal approval, according to the Polk County Board of Commissioners.

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Commissioners met Aug. 10 and heard from county manager Marche Pittman, who said construction is scheduled to begin in 2020. The project is estimated to cost approximately $20 million, according to Pittman. The improvements are proposed to include an exit ramp from I-26 straight to US 74, which will mean traffic coming from I-26 to US 74 will no longer have to use the roundabout in Columbus.

Currently, all traffic going to US 74 from I-26 West and traffic coming off US 74 to I-26 East must travel around the roudabouts. New exits are planned for both directions to completely eliminate US 74 traffic having to use the roundabouts.



Commissioner chair Tom Pack said the project was moved up thanks to help from surrounding counties who also saw the need for the improvements. He said the N.C. Department of Transportation (DOT) had the project low on the list, but with help from Polk’s neighbors the project is now going to happen.

“What this means is in the near future you won’t have to go through those roundabouts if you’re going from I-26 to 74,” Pack said. “There will actually be exit ramps to get on 74. So it will free up traffic in the roundabouts.”

The DOT is planning to obtain rights of way and acquisition of properties beginning in 2018, according to the county manager’s report.