As I-26 project moves forward, so will economic growth

July 11, 2018

Last month, the French Broad River Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) voted 15-3 to cascade funding on Section A, the third and final segment of the I-26 Connector project that seeks to redesign and widen I-240 west of the French Broad River through West Asheville. For the last thirty years, the Asheville Chamber has advocated for this cause and we are pleased to finally move the needle forward with the development of this critical infrastructure.

The decision to cascade, or prioritize regional funding, of Section A is a pivotal step in this project that was first proposed by the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) in the 1980’s. The other two already-funded segments of the project include a new crossing of the French Broad River north of Bowen Bridge and a rebuilt I-26/I-40/I-240 interchange on the west side of town.

Here are positive effects we will see from this long-awaited decision:

  • The anticipated start date will move from 2027 to 2020, beginning with the addition of two lanes to the four-lane road.
  • All sections of the project will be completed on the same schedule, removing the danger of a “severe bottleneck” in West Asheville.
  • The infrastructure will serve as an economic satisfier and help attract better industry and talent to our region.
  • An eventual decrease in commute time and traffic for the 40% of our workforce that works outside of Asheville and the many others who rely on these roads.
  • A decrease in accidents on a highway that presently has one of the highest accident rates in North Carolina.