Traffic

Interstate 26 returns to normal Thursday as lane reversal ends for Florence evacuation

See aerial footage of the Hurricane Florence evacuation

Evacuations for Hurricane Florence are underway in South Carolina as some highway lanes are reversed to increase the flow of traffic away from Charleston and the SC coast.
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Evacuations for Hurricane Florence are underway in South Carolina as some highway lanes are reversed to increase the flow of traffic away from Charleston and the SC coast.

The Interstate 26 lane reversal is set to end on Thursday.

Officials with the South Carolina Department of Public Safety said at a news conference on Wednesday that the I-26 lane reversal is planned to end at 6 p.m. on Thursday.

At that time Highway Patrol cars will leave Charleston County on Interstate 526 and travel to Columbia on the I-26 reversed lanes. Each interchange will be opened as they pass.

If a vehicle is already on the reversed lanes and traveling in front of the Highway Patrol cars, those vehicles will be allowed to continue.

When the highway patrol reaches Interstate 77 from the reversed lanes, I-26 will be back to normal operations soon after. The process is expected to take four hours, the Department of Public Safety says.

At the Wednesday news conference, Gov. Henry McMaster and other state agency officials said that 300,000 people evacuated from the coast. McMaster said on Monday that more than a million people could evacuate.

“The highways are moving smoothly and the lane reversals are working very well,” McMaster said. “We’re getting people out of harm’s way.”

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No major accidents were reported and only a couple minor collisions happened on the reversed lanes, a state agency leader said at the news conference.

On Tuesday morning, traffic backed up on I-26 near Lexington as the lane reversal was put into place. In the afternoon, the normal eastbound lanes of I-26 near Columbia were backed up for five miles with traffic moving less than 15 mph. But no lengthy or harmful interstate congestion has been reported.

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The SCDPS also announced it will break down the lane reversals on U.S. 501 out of Horry County on Thursday beginning at noon. Traffic ahead of the highway patrol cars clearing the reversal will be allowed to continue on. The U.S. 501 reversal breakdown is expected to take four hours as well.

Though lane reversals have been opened on highway I-26, traffic is building up in the Columbia, SC area as many people evacuate from areas likely to be affected by Hurricane Florence.

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