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DOT shows public updates to its proposal to widen I-26

The Department of Transportation is planning to widen a stretch of Interstate 26 from Hendersonville to Asheville. On Monday, the DOT held a meeting to show residents some updates to the proposal. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

A multimillion dollar expansion project is in the works for one of the area's busiest highways.

The Department of Transportation is planning to widen a stretch of Interstate 26 from Hendersonville to Asheville.

On Monday, the DOT held a meeting to show residents some updates to the proposal.

"Acquisition could start as soon as this year,” the NCDOT's David Uchiyama said. “We hope to have a contract go out next year."

Uchiyama said DOT officials chose to use a 6/8 lane hybrid design to minimize the impact in the area.

"Something has to be done,” said Jim Middlekauf, a resident of the area. “This road does have to be widened."

I-26 from U.S. 25 to Asheville Highway will be widened to six lanes. The rest of the project will be widened to eight lanes.

"They're building a road that is far too big for the area's needs,” said Tom Morrissey, another resident.

Morrissey thinks the eight-lane section of the project is unnecessary.

"My thoughts are that the four lanes on each side is overkill,” said Morrissey. “They could have saved a lot of taxpayer dollars by just putting in three lanes the entire length of the expanded area."

Other updates presented at the meeting include an uncommon design, called the partial cloverleaf, for the interchange on U.S. 64.

It basically adds a separate left turn crossover lane which drivers follow through to the interchange before turning onto the interstate.

"It’s going to be safer, as well as reduce congestion, increase storage and it's using almost all of the already existing infrastructure," Uchiyama said.

The interchange on U.S. 25 will be upgraded to a diverging diamond, the same design used on Airport Road.

The bridge over the French Broad River will also be replaced.

Uchiyama said there is a plan to allow people to continue using the river during the expected nearly four-year construction.

"Follow the signs and buoys and all the other navigational lanes to float through the safe passage lane," Uchiyama said.

The project is expected to cost nearly $466 million.

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