Interstate traffic now flowing

Published 8:00 am Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Local ramps open ahead of World Equestrian Games

COLUMBUS — Drivers in Polk County were likely relieved beginning Sunday, as they no longer had to detour through Columbus to access Interstate 26 West.

The ramp was reopened late Saturday night by the North Carolina Department of Transportation, as construction finished prior to the World Equestrian Games, which begins Tuesday.

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NCDOT Communications Officer David Uchiyama said the ramp to go from Interstate 26 West to U.S. 74 East has been open for a couple of weeks.

“U.S. 74 West to I-26 is connected to the I-26 East to N.C. 108 ramp, and that opened last night,” Uchiyama said Sunday night.

The ramp off the roundabouts in Columbus to access Interstate 26 West from N.C. 108 has been shut down for several weeks because of construction.

Coming from Rutherford County along U.S. 74, drivers will now take the same exit as before to get to Interstate 26 toward Greenville/Spartanburg.

“Take the same exit as before and loop around,” Uchiyama said. “It now ends at the ramp that takes folks from Hendersonville to Tryon. Go through one roundabout and onto Interstate 26 East.”

Uchiyama said now the traffic that had to exit at Exit 163 along Interstate 26 West no longer has to do so and, from Rutherford County to Greenville/Spartanburg, drivers only have to go around one roundabout instead of two.

The ramp is expected to be complete in the next few weeks, so traffic coming from Rutherford County along U.S. 74 will have a separate ramp and not have to go around the roundabouts to get onto Interstate 26 East.

The project of creating ramps to U.S. 74 from Interstate 26 began last October, costing more than $19 million to build. The state pushed its plans to complete the ramps by approximately three years once the Tryon International Equestrian Center announced its plans to host WEG.

Heavy rains this spring pushed back the ramp’s completion date, as it was originally expected to be done by Aug. 17. The NCDOT also completed a $5.2 million project on U.S. 74 to create two bridges, so TIEC could build a road underneath U.S. 74 for the games.

WEG will run through Sunday, Sept. 23, and could bring 400,000 people to the area.

View new ramps in Columbus from the NCDOT by clicking here. The new ramps are shown in green.