Three quick comments [on “Inroads: How Interstate Highways Changed the Face of WNC,” March 8, Xpress]:
• Helpful and informed article by Max Hunt. Great research and looked at both the underbelly of new highway construction and the shiny parts, too!
• Referencing the approved new construction that will impact downtown Asheville re: the I-26. How about printing the actual map of this for everyone to better understand?
• Speaking of new construction, currently underway is some hellish widening (for who knows why) of [New] Leicester Highway. What gives and what does that map look like?
Keep up the great writing !
— Trey Scott
Big Sandy Mush
Editor’s note: We considered running a map of the I-26 project, but the available map doesn’t reproduce well at smaller sizes. Here’s a link for more info on the I-26 Connector: http://avl.mx/3j3.
On the New Leicester Highway project, we checked in with DOT Division Construction Engineer Ricky A. Tipton, who provided updated information on the project. Contracts were awarded in March 2015 for the 4.3-mile, $35 million design-build project, he says, with Vaughn & Melton (with an office in Asheville) handling the design work, and Tennoca Construction (based in Candler) doing the construction.
The project will widen the existing two-lane road to four lanes (with a median) between Newfound Road and a point near Alexander Road and to three lanes from there to Gilbert Road. Reducing congestion, planning for future traffic and improving safety are the reasons behind the widening, Tipton reports. Average daily traffic counts in 2008 ranged from 21,800 at Newfound Road to about 8,400 at Gilbert Road. Projections for 2035 range from 34,000 at Newfound Road to 13,300 at Gilbert Road, he says.
Construction started within the past few months, and the project is scheduled for completion in July 2020. Tipton advises caution for motorists: “Be mindful if you’re driving through the area that construction is going on. Make sure you pay attention.”
The project appears on this this interactive DOT map: http://avl.mx/3j6