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HERE IT COMES: I-26 lane closings start tonight in Buncombe

Drivers on Interstate 26 will experience the first noticeable signs of construction for the interstate’s widening project on Tuesday night.

A contractor for the N.C. Department of Transportation will close the eastbound outside lane between the French Broad River and Long Shoals Road Tuesday and Wednesday nights from 9 p.m. until as late as 6 a.m. in order to remove reflective markers.

The schedule continues with nighttime closures on Thursday and Friday to remove existing stripes and install new paint for new lanes through this section. These operations will be followed by the installation of safety barrier along the outside shoulder so crews may begin construction activities with heavy equipment in the coming weeks.

“We’re happy that plans are coming together and the contractor will start construction-related activities this week,” Division 13 assistant construction engineer Nathan Moneyham said. “Work will be conducted at night to the maximum extent possible to reduce additional congestion on I-26 during daytime hours.”

The NCDOT has awarded two contracts worth $535 million for the widening of I-26 from Four Seasons Boulevard (exit 49) to I-40. The project will widen the highway from four to eight lanes between Brevard Road and the U.S. 25 Fletcher-Mountain Home interchange and to six lanes from there to U.S. 64. Transportation officials reminded drivers to be aware in work zones, obey all posted signs and eliminate in-car distractions.