I-26 eastbound lane reversal in effect: what you need to know

I-26 westbound traffic is bumper-to-bumper leading up to the 3 p.m. lane reversal.

Drivers evacuating the Lowcountry because of Hurricane Matthew are now using both the I-26 eastbound and westbound lanes to head west.

The "rolling closure" began about 12:30 p.m. starting at I-77 in Lexington County. It involved closing eastbound on-ramps one-by-one until they reached the I-526 Interchange in North Charleston, according to the Department of Transportation. That's a total of 97 miles.

The reversal began as scheduled at 3 p.m.

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Drone video provided by Skyview Aerial Solutions

Local traffic is discouraged from using the evacuation routes such as I-26 and I-526. I-526 traffic will be forced to use I-26.

"Local traffic is encouraged to use roadways such as International, Aviation, etc. and avoid anything around I-526 or I-26," said Lance Cpl. Matt Southern with the SCHP. "Any traffic on I-526 will be diverted onto I-26 evacuation route. I-26 is a main evacuation route. If you are traveling locally avoid the interstate."

Traffic on westbound lanes of I-26 will not be able to exit until Exit 187 near Ridgeville. The exit to I-95 is closed to all I-26 traffic and I-95 traffic is not able to get onto I-26.

Also, DOT says motorists using the eastbound lanes to evacuate will not be able to exit from I-26 until they reach Columbia.

There will be "comfort stations" along the way and you will be able to access rest areas.

If you run out of gas, SCDOT says they will have extra SHEP trucks patrolling the interstate to provide some gas to get you moving again.

During a Wednesday evening press conference, the governor said she expects the lane reversal to remain in place until at least Friday. Evacuations in Georgetown County and Horry County are expected to begin at noon Thursday.

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