UPDATE: Per SCDOT, the I-26 lane reversals will end Thurs. at 6 p.m. Westbound I-26 will still be open, but east bound lanes will be closed.

On Monday, Gov. Henry McMaster announced eastbound lanes on I-26 would be reversed so the the estimated 1 million people ordered to evacuate can do so safely. But there’s a little confusion about exactly what to expect if you’re evacuating or just trying to get across town, so let’s take a look.

Pro tip: Check out 511sc.gov to get a look at how traffic is flowing on highways near you.

Here are the basics of what you need to know:

  • Expect delays.
  • No matter where you’re trying to go, if you end up in the normal westbound I-26 lanes headed toward Columbia, the first exit you’ll be able to get off is Ridgeville, about 20 minutes north of Main St. in Summerville. After that, the next exit is Orangeburg.

If you’re trying to get around Charleston:

  • The short answer is: Avoid the interstate, especially outside I-526, take back roads.
  • I-26 lanes inside I-526 are open normally.
  • I-526 will be open with east and westbound lanes, however, you can only access the westbound lanes of I-26.
  • The lane reversal only affects I-26, so Hwy. 17, 61, 78, and any other main thoroughfares should have regular traffic patterns, but expect more traffic.

If you are evacuating:

  • Expect delays on I-26.
  • The lane reversal started at 11 a.m., an hour earlier originally announced.
  • Access to I-26 will be restricted to four access points meant for evacuees: the I-526/I-26 interchange, Ashley Phosphate, U.S. 78 interchange, and College Park Road.
  • If you get on I-26 in the reversed lanes, not all exits will be open. There will only be eight exits open between North Charleston and the Columbia area.
  • There will be some rest stops open along the way with mobile bathrooms open.


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