NC DOT accepted public eomment at a public hearing Tuesday night on some proposed changed to the busy interchange at I-26 and Brevard Road at Biltmore Square Mall. 

The state Department of Transportation is working on plans to reconfigure the Interstate 26-Brevard Road interchange near Biltmore Square Mall to ease traffic flow.

DOTengineers acknowledge it is uncertain when any construction will actually be done.

There are times when congestion slows movement from Brevard Road, numbered N.C. 191, onto I-26, and more issues are expected as traffic increases over the next 20-25 years, said Rick Tipton, DOT division construction engineer.

“You definitely don’t want to see traffic back up onto the interstate,” Tipton said. Ramps are designed with enough room for cars exiting I-26 to sit while waiting for traffic lights under current conditions, he said, “but at some point it may not be enough.”

Tipton said DOT is likely to move the traffic lights at either end of the Brevard Road bridge farther from I-26, build exit ramps in wider loops and replace the existing Brevard Road bridge with a wider one.

The project will re-route parts of Rocky Ridge Road and Wedgefield Drive, DOT says.

DOT held an April 2013 public meeting on several alternative ways to rebuild the interchange. Undrea Major, a DOT engineer in charge of the project, said a new alternative to be discussed Tuesday combines elements of previous plans.

He and Tipton said they do not expect changes to be as radical as those the state has  planned or already implemented at the other two I-26 interchanges in southern Buncombe County.

All traffic getting off or on I-26 at Long Shoals Road converges at a set of traffic lights underneath the I-26 bridges over the road.

DOT also plans to rebuild the I-26-Airport Road interchange but has had difficulty getting bids it considers reasonable from contractors.

The agency is in the middle of re-examining priorities for transportation projects across the state, making it difficult to say when the Brevard Road interchange work might happen, Major said.

“The project is not funded for anything beyond the planning stage as yet,” he said. “While it’s very important and probably high in priority on people’s list, there are a couple of items we’ll have to be able to work out in order to get the funding.”