Interstate 26 generally stays west of Columbia, serving commuting interests from Irmo to the northwest and south Lexington County.

Interstate 26 angles southeast from Upstate South Carolina to the LowCountry and Atlantic Coastal Plain. The freeway serves Charleston at the eastern terminus, linking it with the capital city and the Greenville/Spartanburg area (in conjunction with Interstate 385). Northward from the Palmetto State, I-26 continues to Hendersonville and Asheville, North Carolina and the Tri-Cities in eastern Tennessee. Outside of the metro areas in South Carolina, I-26 remains rural, generally with four travel lanes.

Interstate 26 South Carolina Guides

The first stretch of Interstate 26 opened in 1960.5

The "Malfunction Junction" area of St. Andrews was slated for a massive overhaul as part of a $80-million improvement project starting in mid-1988 with right of way acquisition. Proposals outlined two new directional ramps from I-26 to I-20, and a collector distributor roadway system northward from I-126 to the St. Andrews Road interchange along I-26.1 Funding for this project however never matriculated.

23 years later, studies and designs were again undertaken to address issues at the exchange between I-20 and I-26. Cost for the project were forecast at $400-million in February 2011, but again funding was not secured.3 Eventually branded as Carolina Crossroads, work on a five phase project upgrading portions of I-20, I-26 and I-126 starts in 2021. Phase 3, which replaces the cloverleaf at I-20/26 with a systems interchange, is scheduled to run from 2023 to 2027. The fifth phase, which widens I-26 northwest to Broad River Road, may be completed by the end of 2019.

Interstate 26 was expanded to six overall lanes between U.S. 1 and U.S. 378 in Lexington County during a three-year construction project by July 1993. Work here cost $12.1-million.2

Exit 102 with S.C. 60 (Lake Murray Boulevard) was upgraded from a half diamond to a six-ramp parclo interchange during work between March 3, 19974 and late 1999. This construction followed an expansion of I-26 from four to six lanes between Harbison Boulevard and U.S. 176 (Ballentine exit) in December 1993.

Looking northwest at Interstate 26 from the S.C. 72 overpass at Exit 54. A second Clinton area diamond interchange lies a short distance to the north at S.C. 56 (Exit 52). 10/15/01

Interstate 26 scenes
Montague Avenue meets Interstate 26 just south of the exchange with I-526 in the city of North Charleston. The arterial connects the freeway with a number of shopping centers and an outlet mall. Pictured here is the eight lane overpass above I-26 and approach to the westbound on-ramp. 01/18/04
Montague Avenue east at the westbound on-ramp to I-26 to Columbia. Ahead is the intersection with Mall Drive and Goer Street. Goer Street acts as a frontage road for Interstate 26 to the south while Mall Drive encircles the Charles Towne Square retail complex.
This I-26 shield and guide sign assembly was subsequently knocked down and removed. 01/18/04
An Interstate 26 trailblazer directs drivers along Commerce Drive as it merges with the off-ramp from I-26 west within the diamond interchange at Exit 113. 08/05/00
Commerce Drive and the off-ramp at Exit 113 continue to meet S.C. 302 (Airport Boulevard) at a signalized intersection. S.C. 302 travels a short distance east to end at U.S. 21-176-321 (Charleston Highway).
This assembly was removed and a new set of shields were posted for S.C. 302 across Airport Boulevard. 08/05/00
2 photos
2 photos
St. Andrews Road west at the loop ramp onto Interstate 26 east outside Columbia. I-26 proceeds south directly to "Malfunction Junction" with Interstate 20. 06/01/07
Eastbound S.C. 72 meets Interstate 26 at a diamond interchange outside Clinton. The westbound ramp sees two control cities due to the nearby split of I-26 west with Interstate 385 north to Greenville. 10/15/01
Former sign assembly posted along U.S. 29 north ahead of its cloverleaf interchange with Interstate 26 near Hadden Crossroads. Interstate 26 travels between the cities of Asheville, North Carolina, 60 miles to the north, and Columbia, 80 miles to the south. 12/08/99

  1. "MAJOR CHANGES FOR 'JUNCTION' PLANNED." The State (Columbia, SC), December 11, 1987.
  2. "I-26 ROADWORK WINDING DOWN - CONSTRUCTION SHOULD BE DONE BY JULY 4." The State (Columbia, SC), June 7, 1993.
  3. "Malfunction Junction gets initial go-ahead - I-26, I-20." The State (Columbia, SC), February 18, 2011.
  4. "WORK ON INTERCHANGE MAY BE TRAFFIC-STOPPER." The State (Columbia, SC), February 27, 1997.
  5. "CAROLINA CENTURY: 1960-1979 INTERSTATE SYSTEM WAS BOON FOR SOME IN S.C., BUT NOT ALL." The State (Columbia, SC), December 21, 1999.

Photo Credits:

  • 12/08/99 by AARoads.
  • 08/05/00 by AARoads.
  • 10/15/01 by AARoads.
  • 01/18/04 by AARoads and Carter Buchanan.
  • 06/01/07 by AARoads.

Connect with:
Interstate 20
Interstate 77
Interstate 85
Interstate 95
Interstate 126
Interstate 385
Interstate 526
Business Loop I-85
U.S. 17

Page Updated 09-17-2018.

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