I-26 by the numbers

The new leg of Interstate 26 through Madison County is the fruit of a massive undertaking. Consider these statistics:

Length: nine miles

Number of lanes: six

Original cost estimate (1988): $50-$60 million*

Final cost: $230 million

Percent paid by the federal government: 80*

Cost of welcome center/rest area $6.1 million

Construction time: seven years

Tons of rock and dirt moved: 39 million cubic yards

Tons of rock and dirt moved for the Beaucatcher cut in Asheville: 3 million cubic yards**

Paving material: Concrete lanes, asphalt shoulders

Runaway-truck ramps: three

Average amount of explosives used per blast: 30,000-40,000 pounds

Estimated total amount of explosives used: 100 railroad-car loads

Interchanges: one (at Bear Branch Road)

Feet of guard rail: 35,000

Footprint of road: 500 acres

Families forced to move: 42***

Additional land claims: 160***

Those claims settled in court: 42***

Churches torn down: two

Cemeteries moved: three

Animal underpasses built: two

Streams relocated: one (Bear Branch)

Amount paid by DOT to compensate for relocating a stream: $1 million

Number of monarch-butterfly sanctuaries created: one

Size of butterfly sanctuary: 3 acres

The bridge over Big Laurel Creek boasts its own set of astounding facts. Here are a few:

Height: 220 feet

Number of DOT bridges in North Carolina that are higher: 0

Other N.C. bridge that’s the same height: The Green River Bridge on I-26, south of Asheville

Cost: $14.5 million

Length: 1,000 feet

Cost of anti-icing system: $437,000

Anti-icing system activation: by phone (or in person)

Source (unless otherwise noted): N.C. DOT Resident Engineer Stan Hyatt, the DOT contract administrator for the nine-mile I-26 project.

* according to the Asheville Citizen-Times, quoting “WNC leaders”

** according to N.C. DOT Assistant Resident Engineer Randy McKinney

*** according to research by Madison County resident Rob Amberg

— compiled by Tracy Rose


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