South Carolina’s first freeway, snapshots from the past

Terminal exchange December 6, 1968

The Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956 provided funding for the construction of four interstate highways in South Carolina. They were I-26, I-85, I-95 and I-20. I-26 is the longest of South Carolina’s interstate highways.

Construction of the 221 miles of South Carolina Interstate 26 began in 1957 in Columbia and ended in Charleston in 1969. An 11-mile section of I-26 between Columbia and U.S. Highway 176, was the first portion of the interstate to open to traffic on September 7, 1960.

These highways were to have been completed in 13 years and cover more than 600 miles. From 1957 to 1977 more than $2 billion was spent on South Carolina highway construction.

Today, the 349 miles of Interstate 26 start in Kingsport, Tenn., wend their way south through North Carolina, and end in Charleston.