Ramp to I-26 West needs 2 more weeks

Published 8:00 am Friday, November 30, 2018

New ramp from U.S. 74 to I-26 East will not be done until spring

COLUMBUS — It is the question most in Polk County seem to want to know — “When can we stop going through Columbus to get to Hendersonville and Asheville?”

The North Carolina Department of Transportation said they need another two weeks to reopen the on-ramp to Interstate 26 West from the roundabout, as well as U.S.74 back to the roundabout.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

The new ramp being constructed to connect U.S. 74 West to Interstate 26 East (Ramp F; from Tryon International Equestrian Center to Greenville/Spartanburg) will not be completed until the spring.

NCDOT Communication Director David Uchiyama said the reason for the delay on the new ramp is simply “Mother Nature.”

“At this point, where it’s dirt right now, we are trying to get it compact, as in 100 percent density,” Uchiyama said this week. “When you have this much rain, you can’t compact it.”

NCDOT Division 14 Construction Engineer Ted Adams said in order to pave, temperatures have to be at least 40 degrees.

“We’re going to put final service and next spring will put the friction course down,” Adams said, referring to the new ramp from U.S. 74 to Interstate 26 East.

“The next step is just getting it paved. Getting it warm enough and dry enough to pave. They are looking at next Wednesday and Thursday as a possible window to start.”

On the ramp to Interstate 26 West, Adams said they are pouring a wall now and, once that is complete, the state can open the ramp.

The project began last October to create new ramps so drivers along Interstate 26 and U.S. 74 could directly access each road without having to exit in Columbus at the roundabouts. The new ramp to directly connect Interstate 26 West to U.S. 74 East was completed prior to the World Equestrian Games, held in September at the Tryon International Equestrian Center in Mill Spring.

During the games, all ramps were open, but were closed shortly after to resume work.

The total project is estimated to cost $19 million.