Public Notice


Published Oct. 28, 2015
Expiration date: 11/30/2015

For a complete notice, formatted, and with maps, plans and tables, please download the PDF

Issue Date: October 28, 2015
Comment Deadline: November 30, 2015
Corps Action ID #: SAW-2004-9986803
TIP Project No. I-2513
The Wilmington District, Corps of Engineers (Corps) has received an application from the North
Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) regarding a potential future requirement for
Department of the Army (DA) authorization to discharge dredged or fill material into waters of
the United States associated with the proposed I-26 Connector in Asheville, Buncombe County,
North Carolina, TIP No. I-2513.
Specific alignment alternatives and location information are described below and shown on the
attached maps. This Public Notice and attachments are also available on the Wilmington District
Web Site at
The Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS)
and related maps for this project are available on the NCDOT website at
Applicant: North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT)
Project Development and Environmental Analysis
Attn: Richard W. Hancock, P.E.
1548 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, North Carolina 27699-1548
The Corps will evaluate this application to compare alternatives that have been carried forward
for detailed study pursuant to applicable procedures of Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act
of 1899 and Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (33 U.S.C. 1344).
In order to more fully integrate Section 10 and Section 404 permit requirements with the
National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, and to give careful consideration to our required
public interest review and 404(b)(1) compliance determination, the Corps is soliciting public
comment on the merits of this proposal and on the alternatives evaluated in the October 13, 2015,
FHWA DEIS ( At the close of this comment
period, the District Commander will evaluate and consider the comments received, as well as the
expected adverse and beneficial effects of the proposed road construction, to select the least
environmentally damaging practicable alternative (LEDPA). The District Commander is not
authorizing construction of the proposed project at this time. A final DA permit may be issued
only after our review process is complete, impacts to the aquatic environment have been
minimized to the maximum extent practicable, and a compensatory mitigation plan for
unavoidable impacts has been approved.
The proposed project is located in Asheville, Buncombe County, North Carolina, and is
commonly referred to as the I-26 Connector Project. The I-26 Connector project would connect
I-26 from I-40 in southwestern Asheville to US 19-23-70 in northwest Asheville and have a total
length of approximately 7 miles (USACE Attachment 1). The proposed project is designated in
the NCDOT 2016-2025 State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) (June 2015) as
project number I-2513.
Existing Site Conditions
The City of Asheville is located in Buncombe County within the Blue Ridge Mountains of
western North Carolina. This area is characterized by relatively rugged topography, including
rolling hills, high mountain peaks, and occasional alluvial plains. Buncombe County is the
seventh largest county in North Carolina, with a 2010 US Census population of 238,318; the City
of Asheville is the tenth largest municipality in the state, with a population of 83,393. A large
portion of the land within the study area is developed, with residential and commercial areas
located along existing I-240 and US 19-23-70.
The project study area is contained within the French Broad River Basin, which is located west of
the Eastern Continental Divide, and lies within the French Broad River sub- basin,
approximately 54 miles downstream of the headwaters of the French Broad. Water resources in
the study area are part of the French Broad River Basin (U.S. Geological Survey [USGS]
Hydrologic Unit 06010105). Forty‐five (45) jurisdictional streams and thirty-six (36)
jurisdictional wetlands have been identified in the study area. Named rivers and streams in
the project area include the French Broad River, Lower Hominy Creek, Upper Hominy Creek,
Moore Branch, Reed Creek, Smith Mill Creek, Ragsdale Creek, Trent Branch, and unnamed
tributaries to these waters.
There are no North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission (NCWRC) -designated trout waters,
water supply watersheds (WS‐I or WS‐II), High Quality Waters (HQW), or Outstanding
Resource Waters (ORW) within 1.0 mile downstream of the study area. The North Carolina
Draft 2014 Section 303(d) list of impaired waters identifies no waters within the study area as
impaired due to sedimentation or turbidity.
The existing major roads in the study area consist of 4-lane divided and 6-lane divided roads
with posted speed limits of 50, 55, and 60 mph, respectively.
I-40 is a major east-west interstate facility and is the principal highway access to the Asheville
area from the east and west and is located to the south of the Asheville central business district.
I-240 is a semicircular east-west urban interstate facility that provides a freeway loop through
downtown Asheville, spanning the French Broad River, and connecting with I-40 to the east and
west of town. At the I-240 interchange with US 19-23, east of the French Broad River, US 70
joins US 19-23 to the north. Here, I-240 and US 74A join US 19-23 from the north and Patton
Avenue from the east, where they all continue west across the river as Patton Avenue on the
Captain Jeff Bowen Bridges. US 19-23-74A (Patton Avenue) splits off from I-240 at the Patton
Avenue interchange west of the French Broad River. I-240 and US 19-23 Business continue
south to the US 19-23 Business/SR 3458 (Haywood Road) interchange, where US 19-23
Business exits and follows Haywood Road to the west. I-240 continues southwestward through
the SR 3556 (Amboy Road) and NC 191 (Brevard Road) interchanges and terminates at I-40.
See USACE Attachment 2 for the existing road network in the study area and the project sections
(i.e., Sections C, A, and B).
Applicant’s Stated Purpose
The primary purposes of the proposed project are to:
 Upgrade the Interstate corridor from I-26 south of Asheville through the US 19-23
interchange to meet design standards for the Interstate system;
 Provide a link in the transportation system connecting a direct, multi-lane freeway
facility meeting interstate standards from the Port of Charleston, South Carolina, to I-81
near Kingsport, Tennessee;
 Improve the capacity of existing I-240 west of Asheville to accommodate the existing
and forecasted (2033 design year) traffic in this growing area;
 Reduce traffic delays and congestion along the I-240 crossing of the French Broad
River, which currently operates at capacity; and
 Increase the remaining useful service of the existing Captain Jeff Bowen Bridges by
substantially reducing the volume of traffic on this vital crossing of the French Broad
Project Description
NCDOT proposes to improve the existing I-26, I-240, and US 19-23-70 corridors from south of
the I-26/I-40/I-240 interchange to the US 19-23-70 interchange with SR 1781 (Broadway). This
would include upgrading the I-26/I-40/I-240 interchange and improving I-240 (including the
interchanges) between the I-26/I-40/I-240 interchange and the I-240 interchange with US 19-23-
74A/Patton Avenue west of the French Broad River. At the I-240 interchange with US 19-23-
74A/Patton Avenue, a northward freeway on new location would be constructed that would cross
the French Broad River and merge into existing US 19 23-70. This project is approximately 7
miles long.
Detailed Study Alternatives
The project is broken into three separate sections (USACE Attachment 2). Section C is the
westernmost part of the project, followed by Section A, which is located east of Section C, then
Section B, which is north east of section A. The information in this public notice is organized to
follow this west to east progression (i.e., Sections C, A, and B).
Section C of the project includes the area around the I-26/I-40/I-240 interchange. Section A is
the widening and improvements along I-240 from slightly north of theI-26/I-40/I-240
interchange to slightly south of Patton Avenue. Section B of the project is from slightly south of
the Patton Avenue interchange to US 19-23-70 near the Broadway interchange and includes a
new roadway and bridges across the French Broad River.
Four build alternatives in Section C, one build alternative in Section A, and four build
alternatives in Section B were selected as detailed study alternatives. USACE Attachments 3-11
depict the nine (9) detailed study alternatives. The following is a brief description of each
Section C – Alternative A-2: Alternative A-2 would include upgrading the I-26/I-40/I-
240 interchange to a four-level interchange with four high-speed flyover ramps for the left turn
movements. Alternative A-2 would include improvements to the US 19-23-74A (Smoky Park
Highway) interchange and also upgrade the Brevard Road interchange on I-40 by replacing the
loop in the southeast quadrant of the interchange with a ramp in the southwest quadrant. The
westbound direction of I-40, between Brevard Road and I-26/I-240, would include a parallel
roadway that would allow for traffic exiting and entering the freeway to make the movements
away from the main through traffic along I-40. In the eastbound direction of I-40, the exit ramp
to Brevard Road would be bridged over the entrance ramp from I-26/I-40. Traffic from I-26/I-
240 would not be allowed to exit to Brevard Road along I-40.
Section C – Alternative C-2: Alternative C-2 would also provide a four-level
interchange at I-26/I-40/I-240, similar to Alternative A-2; however, two of the four flyover
ramps would be converted to loops. Alternative C-2 would include minor improvements to the
US 19-23-74A (Smoky Park Highway) interchange and also upgrade the Brevard Road
interchange along I-40, with the general configuration remaining the same as the existing
interchange. Both the eastbound and westbound direction of I-40, between Brevard Road and I-
26/I-240, would include a parallel roadway that would allow for traffic exiting and entering the
freeway to make the movements away from the main through traffic along I-40.
Section C – Alternative D-1: Alternative D-1 would be similar to both Alternatives A-2
and C-2 but would include three high-speed flyover ramps and one loop for the left turn
movements at the I-26/I-40/I-240 interchange. Alternative D-1 would include minor
improvements to the US 19-23-74A (Smoky Park Highway) interchange and also upgrade the
Brevard Road interchange on I-40 by converting it to an interchange with ramps in all four
quadrants. The eastbound and westbound direction of I-40, between Brevard Road and I-26/I-
240, would include the ramps connecting to I-40 being bridged over the ramps from I-40.

Section C – Alternative F-1: Alternative F-1 would maintain the existing two-level
interchange configuration of the I-26/I-40/I-240 interchange and provide the two missing
movements. Alternative F-1 would upgrade the existing interchange by providing additional
through lanes and would provide a new loop from I-240 westbound to I-40 eastbound and a ramp
from I-40 westbound to I-240 eastbound. Alternative F-1 would include minor improvements to
the US 19-23-74A (Smoky Park Highway) interchange. A portion of the Brevard Road
interchange along I-40 would be upgraded, with the general configuration remaining the same as
the existing interchange. Due to the increased distance between the interchanges, no special
features are needed to alleviate the traffic operations problems with weaving vehicles.
Section A – I-240 Widening Alternative: The I-240 Widening Alternative would
include expanding the existing I-240 four-lane roadway to an eight-lane roadway with
interchanges at Brevard Road, Amboy Road, and Haywood Road. During the traffic capacity
analysis for this project, this section was also analyzed as a six-lane roadway. However, the
roadway segments operated at a level of service (LOS) of E or F as a six-lane roadway. FHWA
has adopted by regulation a LOS D or better in urban areas, this roadway was determined to
require eight lanes. The most substantial change in the configuration of Section A would be the
extension of Amboy Road across I-240 to Brevard Road, opposite Shelburne Road. The Amboy
Road extension would provide for all traffic movements, which would be an upgrade from the
existing interchange. The interchange at Brevard Road would include ramps in all quadrants
except the northeast quadrant. Traffic destined for Brevard Road from I-240 westbound/I-26
eastbound would exit at the Amboy Road exit and use the Amboy Road extension to Brevard
Road. The interchange at Haywood Road would be similar to the existing configuration, with a
few minor changes. The exit ramp from I-240 eastbound to Hanover Street would be eliminated
and the ramp would connect directly to Haywood Road. In addition, the short segment of the I-
240 eastbound entrance ramp that allows traffic in both directions would be eliminated.
Section B – Alternative 3: Alternative 3 would begin slightly south of Patton Avenue
and extend I-26 to the north, while I-240 would remain along its existing path across the Captain
Jeff Bowen Bridges. A new service road on the north side of Patton Avenue would be
constructed that would provide access to Westgate Shopping Center, Regent Park Boulevard, and
Resort Drive and include ramps to and from I-26. North of Patton Avenue, I-26 would run
northward and cross over the Blue Ridge Southern Railroad and Emma Drive, before turning to
the northeast and crossing the French Broad River. I-26 would connect to existing US 19-23-70
on the east side of the French Broad River, approximately one-half mile south of the Broadway
interchange. The Patton Avenue/I-240/US 19-23-70 interchange on the east side of the French
Broad River would not be modified under Alternative 3.
Section B – Alternative 3-C: Alternative 3-C is almost identical in configuration and
design to Alternative 3 with the exception of the new alignment location for the I-26 freeway
after the I-240 split. The Alternative 3-C alignment would turn east instead of going north and
would cross the French Broad River on two bridge structures approximately 2,500 feet north of
the Captain Jeff Bowen Bridges before connecting with US 19-23-70.

Section B – Alternative 4: Alternative 4 would also begin slightly south of Patton
Avenue and would extend I-26 along a similar path as Alternative 3, crossing the French Broad
River and connecting to US 19-23-70 approximately one-half mile south of the Broadway
interchange. The major difference in Alternative 4 is that it would separate local and I-240 traffic
across the Captain Jeff Bowen Bridges by rerouting I-240 to the north along a pair of new
flyover bridges. Alternative 4 includes a standard interchange configuration at Patton Avenue,
with ramps in all four quadrants, on the west side of the French Broad River. Ramps on the north
side would include a pair of ramps that connect Patton Avenue to both I-240 and I-26. On the
east side of the French Broad River, the Patton Avenue/I-240/US 19-23-70 interchange would be
modified to allow I-240 to curve to the north and include a partial interchange that connects to
Patton Avenue. For Alternative 4, Patton Avenue would become a local street and the Captain
Jeff Bowen Bridges would be converted from an interstate freeway to a local street crossing.
Section B – Alternative 4-B: Alternative 4-B is similar to Alternative 4 by separating the
local and I-240 traffic across the Captain Jeff Bowen Bridges. However, Alternative 4-B would
strive to minimize the footprint of the design and include I-26 turning to the east and crossing the
French Broad River approximately one-half mile north of the existing Captain Jeff Bowen
Bridges. Alternative 4-B would be identical to Alternative 4 in the vicinity of the Patton
Avenue/I-240/US 19-23-70 interchange and include flyover ramps for I-240 that are similar to
those in Alternative 4. The interchange configuration at Patton Avenue would be slightly
different for Alternative 4-B, with a loop in the southwest quadrant that connects to Patton
Avenue opposite Regent Park Boulevard. The I-26 crossing would be shifted farther to the south
and result in a more compact interchange on the east side of the French Broad River. I-26 would
follow the existing alignment of US 19-23-70 for a longer distance along the edge of the
Montford Neighborhood through the Broadway interchange. As with Alternative 4, Alternative
4-B would allow Patton Avenue to become a local street and the Captain Jeff Bowen Bridges
would be converted from an interstate freeway to a local street crossing.
How many lanes would be included for the I-26 Connector?
The design standards for interstate facilities require that the design must accommodate the traffic
volumes for at least 20 years from the time the project begins construction. Therefore, the
minimum number of lanes required to accommodate the projected traffic volumes were
evaluated for each section of the project. The I-26 Connector would include eight through travel
lanes (four in each direction) for the section from I-40 to Patton Avenue (where it is combined
with I-240) and six through travel lanes (three in each direction) from Patton Avenue to
Proposed impacts to Waters of the U.S.
The impacts to waters of the U.S. for each of the nine (9) alternatives that were studied in detail
are listed below. Note that only one (1) alternative in each section (i.e., C, A, and B) will be
chosen for the overall project, so the overall project will consist of three (3) alternatives – one
alternative in Section C, one in Section A, and one in Section B. These impact estimates were
calculated on design slope stake limits plus a 25-foot buffer.

Section C
Alternative A-2 Impact 2,966 lf of stream and 2.65 acres of wetland.
Alternative C-2 Impact 2,780 lf of stream and 2.39 acres of wetland.
Alternative D-1 Impact 2,939 lf of stream and 2.05 acres of wetland.
Alternative F-1 Impact 1,978 lf of stream and 1.9 acres of wetland.
Section A
I-240 Widening
Alternative Impact to 798 lf of stream and 0.01 acre of wetland.
Section B
Alternative 3 Impact to 3,874 lf of stream and 0.22 acre of wetland.
Alternative 3-C Impact to 3,638 lf of stream and 0.11 acre of wetland.
Alternative 4 Impact to 1,840 lf of stream and 0.23 acre of wetland.
Alternative 4-B Impact to 2,128 lf of stream and 0.1 acre of wetland.
Cultural Resources
The FHWA is the lead federal agency for this project and, in accordance with Section 106 of the
National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), will make determinations and request concurrence
with these determinations from the North Carolina State Historic Preservation Office
(NCSHPO). Additionally, if and when necessary, adverse effects to historic resources will be
resolved through execution of a memorandum of agreement.
According to the FHWA:
The study area includes 16 historic resources that are either on the National Register of Historic
Places (NRHP) or eligible for inclusion on the Register. Based on consultation with the
NCSHPO, the historic resources are evaluated in accordance with Section 106 of the NHPA and
the effects on the property are determined based on the magnitude of the effect on the property.
Three classifications are included in the evaluation: “no effect,” “no adverse effect,” and
“adverse effect.” The project would have “no effect” on all alternatives for six of the historic
resources. Six additional properties were determined to have “no adverse effect” for all
alternatives being considered. Section B – Alternatives 3 and 3-C would have “no effect” for the
Montford Area Historic District and “no adverse effect” for Alternative 4, but would have an
“adverse effect” for Alternative 4-B. The Montford Hills Historic District would have a “no
adverse effect” for Alternative 4-B and “no effect” for Alternatives 3, 3-C, and 4. The Montford
Hills/Hibriten Drive Boundary Expansion would have “no adverse effect” for Alternatives 3, 3-
C, and 4 and “no effect” for Alternative 4-B. West Asheville/Aycock School Historic District
would have an “adverse effect” in Section A.
The study area includes four archaeological sites that have been determined to be eligible for the
NRHP and an additional seven sites that would require additional evaluation to determine
whether they are eligible. The project would potentially affect several of the archaeological sites,
and additional evaluation will occur once a preferred alternative is determined.
Section 4(f) of the Department of Transportation Act of 1966
Section 4(f) provides protection to historic properties, public parks, and recreation areas. The
proposed project would result in a “use” of five to six historic properties and two park/recreation
areas, depending on the selected alternative. Use of a Section 4(f) property occurs when land is
permanently incorporated into a transportation facility; or when there is a temporary occupancy
of land that is adverse in terms of the statute's preservation purpose; or when there is a
constructive use (a project's proximity impacts are so severe that the protected activities,
features, or attributes of a property are substantially impaired). The following resources would
include use of a Section 4(f) property: Biltmore Estate (Section C – Alternatives A-2 and C-2),
Asheville School (all Section C alternatives), West Asheville/Aycock School Historic District
(Section A), Carrier Park (Section A), French Broad River Greenway (Section A), William
Worley House (all Section B alternatives), Montford Hills Historic District (Section B –
Alternative 4-B), and Montford Hills & Hibriten Drive Expansion (Section B – Alternatives 3, 3-
C, and 4).
Endangered Species
The following table contains the federally listed threatened and endangered species for
Buncombe County and determinations made by the FHWA, the lead federal agency for this

The FHWA has determined that this project may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect, the
Appalachian Elktoe and the Tan Riffleshell; the determination for the Gray and Northern longeared
bats is unresolved at this time. The FHWA will complete the necessary screening and
surveys for the Gray and Northern long-eared bats and will make determinations for these
species. All determinations, other than no effect determinations, will require concurrence from
the US Fish and Wildlife Service (Service).
The decision whether to issue a permit will be based on an evaluation of the probable impacts,
including cumulative impacts, of the proposed activity on the public interest. That decision will
reflect the national concern for both protection and utilization of important resources. The
benefit which reasonably may be expected to accrue from the proposal must be balanced against
its reasonably foreseeable detriments. All factors which may be relevant to the proposal will be
considered including the cumulative effects thereof; among those are conservation, economics,
aesthetics, general environmental concerns, wetlands, historic properties, fish and wildlife
values, flood hazards, flood plain values (in accordance with Executive Order 11988), land use,
navigation, shoreline erosion and accretion, recreation, water supply and conservation, water
quality, energy needs, safety, food and fiber production, mineral needs, considerations of
property ownership, and, in general, the needs and welfare of the people. For activities involving
the discharge of dredged or fill materials in waters of the United States, the evaluation of the
impact of the activity on the public interest will include application of the Environmental
Protection Agency’s 404(b)(1) guidelines.

Compensatory Mitigation
The purpose of compensatory mitigation is to offset unavoidable functional losses to the aquatic
environment resulting from project impacts to waters of the United States. NCDOT will
investigate potential on-site stream and wetland mitigation opportunities once a preferred
alternative has been chosen. If on-site mitigation is not feasible, or a sufficient amount of
mitigation is not available on-site, mitigation will be provided by the NC Division of
Mitigation Services (NCDMS).
Commenting Information
The Corps of Engineers is soliciting comments from the public; Federal, State and local agencies
and officials, including any consolidated State Viewpoint or written position of the Governor;
Indian Tribes and other interested parties in order to consider and evaluate the impacts of this
proposed activity. Any comments received will be considered by the Corps of Engineers to select
the least environmentally damaging practicable alternative (LEDPA) for this proposal. To make
this decision, comments are used to assess impacts on endangered species, historic properties,
water quality, general environmental effects and the other public interest factors listed above.
Comments are used in the preparation of a Corps of Engineers Environmental Assessment (EA)
and/or an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) pursuant to the National Environmental Policy
Act (NEPA). Comments are also used to determine the need for a public hearing and to
determine the overall public interest of the proposed activity.
NCDOT is holding a pre-hearing open house and public hearing for this project on
November 16, 2015, in the Grand Ballroom of the Renaissance Hotel in Asheville. NCDOT
representatives will be available between 4 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. to answer questions and receive
comments concerning the proposed project. The opportunity to submit written comments or
questions will also be provided. The public may attend at any time during the above mentioned
hours. A formal presentation will begin at 7 p.m. The presentation will consist of an explanation
of the proposed corridor location, design, right of way, relocation requirements/procedures, and
the state-federal relationship. The hearing will be open to those present for statements, questions,
and comments. The presentation and comments will be recorded and a transcript will be
prepared. The Corps will receive a copy of the public comments.
Written comments pertinent to the proposed work, as outlined above, will be received by the
Corps of Engineers, Wilmington District, until 5pm, November 30, 2015. Written comments
should be submitted to Ms. Lori Beckwith, US Army Corps of Engineers, Asheville Regulatory
Field Office, 151 Patton Avenue, Room 208, Asheville, NC 28801-5006, telephone 828-271-
7980. Written comments can also be submitted by email to