ASHEVILLE, N.C. — New directional signs along Interstate 26 between Hendersonville, North Carolina, and Asheville, North Carolina, sprouted this year as part of an innovative signal system designed to guide drivers around major incidents or construction on the interstate, according to the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT).
NCDOT crews installed signs and upgraded signal systems along I-26 alternate routes such as the Asheville Highway and Hendersonville Road as part of a new Incident Corridor Management System. The system was activated for the first time — in a non-emergency situation — the evenings of Sept. 15-16 as crews moved girders in place for a new bridge on Clear Creek Road over I-26.
“We’re fortunate to have so many engineers and technicians put so much time and energy into developing a system that will help thousands of people driving the I-26 corridor,” said Chad Franklin, regional information traffic system engineer. “We’re happy to use the system for the first time in a non-emergency situation. It’s like a dress rehearsal.”
Asheville Highway served as an alternate route on both nights. The new ICM system provided longer green lights on Asheville Highway, giving drivers the choice to wait on I-26 during the rolling roadblock or to take the alternate route with more green-light time.
NCDOT engineers developed the ICM system to direct local, commercial and emergency traffic to alternate routes between Hendersonville and Asheville in case of an emergency, such as an extended closure of I-26 between I-40 and U.S 64.
Transportation officials in Raleigh or at the Mountain Regional Traffic Management Center can remotely initiate the system in a matter of minutes, activate the digital signs and change signal timing to allow more vehicles through signals along the detour routes.
For example, signals on Hendersonville Road (U.S. 25), Long Shoals Road, Airport Road, Brevard Road or Haywood Road (N.C. 191) would remain green for an extended time period, while signals on side streets would remain red longer to allow the detoured traffic to flow better along the alternate route.
“Our traffic and signal teams have put in a lot of time and technical work to design and implement this important system,” Franklin said. “We’re very fortunate to have this specialized system in Western North Carolina.”