ASHEVILLE – The National Park Service announced today it intends to adopt the North Carolina Department of Transportation’s Final Environmental Impact Statement for the widening of Interstate 26 in Buncombe and Henderson County, North Carolina. The National Park Service is a cooperating agency for the project, and has been involved in the project planning, preparation, and analysis that are documented in the Final Environmental Impact Statement.
The planned widening of I-26 will conflict with the existing piers for the Blue Ridge Parkway Bridge because of their proximity to the interstate roadway. The selected action realigns a short portion of the Parkway motor road and plans construction of a new bridge spanning I-26 located adjacent to the existing bridge on the south side.
The new bridge, to be located further south then the present bridge, will be 606 feet long, with two 10-foot lanes, three-foot shoulders, and a five-foot sidewalk on one side to accommodate the Mountains-to-Sea Trail. There is also additional parking for the Mountains-to-Sea Trail planned on part of the old Parkway motor road alignment. The Parkway motor road will remain open during the multi-year construction of the new bridge and demolition of the existing bridge.
The North Carolina Department of Transportation Final Environmental Impact Statement is noticed in the Federal Register https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2019/03/22/2019-05420/notice-of-final-federal-agency-actions-on-proposed-highway-in-north-carolina.
The complete set of North Carolina Department of Transportation decision documents can be found on the NPS Planning Environment and Public Comment website at https://parkplanning.nps.gov/bridgeoverI-26home.
Editor’s note: Here is a NCDOT flyover the project area.