Work on I-26 soon could be disruptive
It's show time on Interstate 26. And the show might be over sooner than you think.
The highway-widening project in North Charleston is moving into its very visible, most disruptive phase. Crews have begun to work in the median, where two new lanes and a barrier wall will be built in the next nine months or so.
And over the next few months, the Aviation Avenue and Remount Road overpasses will be demolished and replaced by taller overpasses.
That means traffic is going to start to get funneled into single lanes and rerouted, sometimes on the interstate, and for a long time on the overpass roads.
The S.C. Transportation Department and U.S. Group, the construction company running the project, are working out details to speed up the project by doing the Aviation and Remount bridge work at the same time.
That could complete the entire project a few months ahead of schedule, maybe by the end of 2010 or earlier. The work had been scheduled to end in April 2011.
"That's the plan. On their schedule it looks like they should make it," said Tim Henderson, S.C. DOT district construction engineer.
U.S. Group is looking for approval to take apart the old overpasses section by section, using cranes to lift them overhead.
That would mean interstate traffic would not have to be detoured to Rivers Avenue, although late-night traffic may have to be stopped on the highway for 15-to-20 minutes at a time.
The overpass work also could close Remount Road at times, because a new overpass is being built there. Aviation Avenue traffic will be funneled to a single lane in both directions, but the plan calls for rerouting that traffic between old and new sections as the work is done, said Greg Cook, U.S. Group vice president.
The new schedule is similar to the same-work-at-the-same-time plans that helped complete the Arthur Ravenel Bridge ahead of schedule, Cook said.
The widening project work is being done largely at night, when traffic is at its lightest. Crews have had to adjust to the lighting and have run into a number of unforeseen snags with utility lines, power lines, pipes and — in one unexpected encounter — a jet fuel line to nearby Charleston International Airport.
The work is a three-year, $66 million project to widen the interstate to eight lanes along that three-mile stretch from Interstate 526 to Ashley Phosphate Road, where rush-hour traffic routinely jams.
Reach Bo Petersen at 937-5744 or email@example.com.