A contractor for the N.C. Department of Transportation recently started clearing operations for a four-year project to replace Future I-26 bridges over Reems Creek in northern Buncombe County.
Transportation officials and the contractor will keep two lanes of traffic open for the majority of the construction activities with minimal lane closures. However, shoulders will be closed for long periods of time, necessitating drivers to remain alert and obey all posted signs approaching and within the work zone.
Drivers will notice construction activities with approaching signs near the highway and heavy machinery clearing land on the eastbound right of way. Next, crews will begin grading and start the initial stages of building a bridge foundation.
The general construction plan calls for building one bridge to eventually carry all traffic. The staging schedule calls for construction of a new bridge west of the existing bridge, placing eastbound traffic there upon completion, removing the old eastbound bridge and building a new span wide enough to carry both directions of traffic. Then westbound traffic will move to the new bridge and crews will follow the same pattern of removing the old span and building a new one before the contract completion date in 2027. The new bridge will be higher than the existing bridge by about 10 feet to reduce elevation changes in the area.
Summers-Taylor Inc., of Johnson City, Tenn., earned the $26,083,192 million contract as the lowest qualified bidder. The contract calls for completion by March 14, 2027.
The new bridge will be built to modern interstate standards, wide enough for three lanes plus 12-foot-wide shoulders and a minimum of at least 42-inch-high safety barrier. The new bridges will meet interstate standards and is being constructed to remain in place if the proposed project to widen Future I-26 from Asheville to Weaverville is funded and constructed.