The I-26 Debacle

Published 11:40 am Monday, July 24, 2023

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Has anyone noticed that our stretch of I-26 going towards Hendersonville and back is rapidly turning into a Hollywood disaster film? Maybe Road Warriors? 

Where are they? Where’s the DOT who spent lots of time here forcing through a project that nobody wanted here? 

I am a strong advocate for our law officers. But who in their leadership has decided that no special policing from the State should be required on the Saluda Grade? This area spans 2 counties.

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How many gas spills, causing death and endangering both human and animal life while requiring major cleanup and repairs, will have to occur before someone in our state deigns to notice that there’s a problem that requires their action? Do we need a more dramatic event to shake someone into action? More media coverage to embarrass them into action? When our media shine a light on an issue, politicians seem to notice while they’re very good at not noticing their constituents. 

When the DOT came to discuss the Hwy. 9 project, they had detailed accident statistics for this tiny section of road in Polk County. I wanted to provide you with some for this letter. So, like anyone would do these days, I headed to the website and looked for the state agencies that might deal with our highways.

I spent 40 minutes navigating the DOT website and could not find any accident statistics for the Saluda Grade. But I can tell you, without the exact numbers, that the number and severity of accidents on I-26 are so far in excess of the occasional fender-bender on Hwy. 9 that the comparison is simply ludicrous.

So I set out to find the state agency that held responsibility for this problem.

I went to The Governor’s Highway Safety Program whose mission statement reads “Dedicated to reducing the numbers of traffic crashes and fatalities in North Carolina.” No accident statistics and no programs that would help in this situation.

So, I went to the website of the State Highway Patrol who it would seem would be interested perhaps in patrolling the area more frequently. They also have a mission statement: “The North Carolina State Highway Patrol’s primary mission is to reduce collisions and make the highways of North Carolina as safe as possible.” No accident statistics. No programs for us.

I went to 3 other departments that sounded as if they could be helpful. Nothing.

I consider myself an average citizen that went searching the maze of government agencies to find some answers but none were to be found. I welcome any input and stand ready to get involved with getting action for our county. Once we know where to go, I’m certain that many others here would be supportive of our efforts.

Stuart R. Goldstein

Green Creek