NCDOT plans public informational meeting on I-26/US 74 project

Published 10:00 pm Wednesday, April 19, 2017

COLUMBUS – Polk County residents wanting to speak their opinions or ask questions about a project to add a ramp to access U.S. 74 from I-26 at the roundabout in Columbus will have a chance to do so.

The N.C. Department of Transportation (NCDOT) will hold an informal public meeting on the state’s proposed improvements to the I-26/U.S. 74 interchange on Tuesday, April 25 from 4-7 p.m. at Isothermal Community College-Polk County Campus, located at 1255 W. Mills Street in Columbus.

“The project will provide direct ramp connections from I-26 westbound (WB) to U.S. 74 eastbound (EB) and from U.S. 74 WB to I-26 EB,” states the release from the NCDOT. “NCDOT is working to complete construction of the interchange improvements prior to the Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI) World Equestrian Games, which will be held at the nearby Tryon International Equestrian Center in September 2018.”

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The meeting will be of a drop-in nature over three hours with NCDOT representatives present to provide information and answer questions. The meeting is also geared for the DOT to collect comments regarding the project from the public. Residents will also have an opportunity to submit written comments at the meeting or by mail no later than May 25, 2017.

Currently, traffic movement from I-26 WB to U.S. 74 EB and from U.S. 74 WB to I-26 EB entails traveling through teardrop roundabouts along N.C. 108, which crosses over I-26 on a bridge, according to NCDOT information. The existing configuration creates a situation where interstate through-traffic, which includes a high volume of tractor-trailer trucks, mixes with local traffic, according to the NCDOT.

The cost of the project is $15,500,000 for construction and engineering and $130,000 for anticipated right of way acquisition.

The timeline for the project includes finalizing designs in June 2017, beginning right of way acquisitions in July 2017 and construction beginning in September 2017. The project is expected to be complete prior to September 2018.

NCDOT officials said they will consider the comments they receive during the public meeting as they work to finalize the designs by the end of June. After the designs are finalized, NCDOT right of way agents will contact property owners impacted by the proposed designs.

“The opinions of residents in the community are important on every construction and maintenance project,” NCDOT Communications Officer David Uchiyama said this week. “We’d love to hear what the citizens of Polk County and the surrounding areas think of a project to improve this interchange.”

Contact Kenneth McDowell, Project Engineer, at NCDOT Highway Division 14, 253 Webster Road, Sylva, N.C. 28770 or 828-586-2141 or for more information.

Information and materials can be viewed as they become available at

NCDOT will provide auxiliary aids and services under the Americans with Disabilities Act for disabled persons who wish to participate in the meeting. Anyone requiring special services should contact Jamille Robbins, Human Environment Section, at or at 919-707-6085 as early as possible to make arrangements.

NCDOT will provide interpretive services upon request for people who do not speak English or have a limited ability to read, speak or understand English. Please request services prior to the meeting by calling 1-800-481-6494.

Drawing of the new I-26/US 74 interchange in Columbus that is being planned by the N.C. Department of Transportation. (photo submitted by the N.C. Department of Transportation)