COLUMBUS — A major construction project in the mountains is close to completion.
N.C. Department of Transportation officials opened the last leg of the final ramp earlier this week at the interchange of U.S. 74 and Interstate 26 in Polk County. This marks the first time that all ramps and lanes are open.
“Opening all of the ramps and completing the project will provide improved access for our citizens as well as visitors to our region for many decades to come,” NCDOT Division 14 Engineer Brian Burch said. “This will enhance the lives of residents in Polk County and creates safer routes for interstate and local traffic.”
The $19 million project created two new ramps that eliminated the need for interstate traffic to mix with local traffic on at least one roundabout on N.C. 108 in Columbus.
One new ramp takes drivers from U.S. 74 West to I-26 East, and the other takes traffic from I-26 West to U.S. 74 East. The project also includes improved pipes and drainage, a new culvert, eight retaining walls, fresh riding surfaces, new paint and upgraded signs.
The contactor, Vecellio & Grogan, began construction in October 2017, and built two new bridges on U.S. 74 west of the Pea Ridge Road exit as part of the project.
Several punch-list items remain before the project will be declared complete. Crews will install rumble strips and apply new long-life pavement markings that will require short lane closures. Another section of the contract includes repaving more than 4,000 feet of N.C. 108.