A recent email written by Julie Mayfield, co-executive director of the WNC Alliance and a member of the Interstate 26 Connector working group in Asheville, notes that N.C. DOT didn’t show much love recently for the highway construction project. Here’s the note:
Hi all – big news on I-26 on Thursday. The state released an even newer ranking of statewide projects, and Section B of the Connector did not score well enough to be funded in the next 10 year funding cycle. Section C did; Section A was even further down the list than before.
This change is the result of a couple of things as I understand it – first, the addition of about 500 new projects that were not included in the original list that came out about a month ago. Second, it also apparently considers the spending cap of about $200 million placed on projects in any one corridor. For us, the Connector, the Brevard Road Interchange, and the I26 widenings south of I-40 are all in the same corridor and run up against that cap pretty quickly.
Section C of I-26, the Brevard Rd. interchange, and the new Liberty Road interchange did apparently make the cut, along with the first two stretches of I-26 widening south of I-40.
The City and the Working Group are figuring out what all of this means, and we plan to meet with DOT and DOT board member David Brown in the next 10 days or so. I will let you know as soon as I do what the implications are. It seems unlikely they would stop work on the EIS since they are so close and since Section C made the cut. It is also likely the ranking formula will be tweaked some, so they could complete the EIS and hope section B scores better when projects are re-scored in two years.
But it’s also possible that these rankings essentially direct DOT to put their efforts toward the higher ranked projects rather than the lower ones. And the higher ranked projects are no where near as far along in the planning as I-26.
What a roller coaster spring we’ve had with this project. You all were great at the public meeting – I saw many of you and appreciate your presence and getting your friends and neighbors out. Two hundred people is a great showing.
Will let you know something more when I do.
Earlier this year, elected officials in Asheville and Buncombe County scrambled to pass resolutions in support of a new design for the Interstate 26 Connector bridge portion of the project, all in hopes that it would improve funding prospects.
I was hoping they would move forward with all of both projects. Who ever heard of an interstate (not where it begins or ends but in the middle) down to one lane (at I-26 connector)? While it may seem unfair that so much NCDOT construction money was going to one area, it really was a backlog because the I-26 widening was held up for 20 years because of an environmental lawsuit. At any rate, I’m glad the “first two stretches of I-26 widening south of I-40”. That was a death trap. I nearly got killed several times trying to merge onto the highway. I’m not sure if she means both I-4400/I-4700 or just I-4400A & B?