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State troopers lead the contraflow lane reversal traffic west on I-26 toward Columbia on Tuesday, September 11, 2018. The eastbound reversal in Interstate 26 began just before 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018. Lauren Petracca/Staff

Lane reversal along eastbound Interstate 26 was initiated shortly at 11 a.m. Tuesday, ahead of the mandatory coastal evacuation ordered by Gov. Henry McMaster, which was slated to begin at noon.

Traffic along designated evacuation routes, all of which is westbound, was already beginning to accumulate shortly after implementation of the reversal, authorities said. 

In the predawn hours of Tuesday, South Carolina transportation officials began the work of reversing traffic on eastbound Interstate 26 ahead of the mandatory evacuation for Hurricane Florence that's expected to begin at noon. Officials said during a press conference that the evacuation process was designed to end six hours before the arrival of tropical storm-force wind.

Florence was headed toward landfall early Friday morning, forecasters said. 

Road crews were dispatched along eastbound I-26, from I-77 near Columbia to I-526 in Charleston, and received the go-ahead around 6:30 a.m. from S.C. Highway Patrol to begin shutting down the ramps in order to aid the reversal process, said S.C. Department of Transportation spokesman Pete Poore.

The reversal pattern is intended to ease traffic conditions as residents along the coastline evacuate.

Stay with postandcourier.com for updates on traffic conditions, delays and closures.

Reach Michael Majchrowicz at 843-607-1052. Follow him on Twitter @mjmajchrowicz.

Michael Majchrowicz is a reporter covering crime and public safety. He previously wrote about courts for the Daily Hampshire Gazette in Northampton, Massachusetts. A Hoosier native, he graduated from Indiana University with a degree in journalism.