The Polk County Commission has invited transportation officials and state legislators to a public meeting Dec. 21 to hear about the hazards of the grade and the problems it poses for truckers, motorists and emergency personnel, reports the Associated Press.
Earlier this month, a tractor-trailer hauling a load of sodium hydrosulfite overturned on the stretch and caught fire. The road was at least partially closed for several days. The truck driver was charged with drunk driving and speeding.
The wreck was the latest of many crashes on the highway, which drops nearly 600 feet per mile for 3½ miles.
As part of a repaving project set for next spring, the state Department of Transportation plans to build a concrete retaining wall along 1,500 feet of the grade. Other solutions likely to come up during the meeting are lowering the speed limit from 65 mph to 55 mph, putting up more warnings, and building a pull-off area for trucks at the top of what’s called the Saluda Grade. Unlike some steep grades, I-26 has no warning lights that flash when vehicles are traveling too fast.
The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. at Polk County High School in Columbus, NC.