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The ‘Taj Mahal of rest areas’ opens in North Carolina


The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) is taking great pride in a new rest area opening this week along I-26.

In a May 5 news release announcing the planned opening of the I-26 Buncombe County Rest Area, officials describe the facility as “luxurious” and “worthy of comparison to any new luxury home built in western North Carolina.”

NCDOT touts the facility’s “high ceilings, fine wood finishes, energy efficient plumbing, lots of natural light, and plenty of space for four-legged family members” as luxe attractions.

“I jokingly call it the Taj Mahal of rest areas, but I’m only kind of joking,” NCDOT Division 14 Resident Engineer Mike Patton said. “We hope that drivers from our area and across the nation take a break from driving and enjoy this wonderful rest area.”​

The rest area is located on eastbound I-26 at mile marker 41, just beyond the Airport Road exit. Officials say that the rest area is scheduled to open on Friday, May 6. The corresponding westbound rest area is set to open in the middle of June.

Amenities at the new rest area include:

  • 90 passenger car parking spaces
  • 30 semi truck parking spaces
  • 4 handicap parking spaces
  • Complete ADA compliance
  • High-efficiency lighting
  • Low-flow water systems
  • Family restroom with changing table
  • Patio picnic area
  • Separate vending machine building
  • Dedicated pet area with fire-hydrant

“NCDOT takes great pride in its rest areas, not only in the mountains, but across the state” NCDOT Division 13 Roadside Environmental Engineer Jeff Wait said. “Some of the finest rest areas in the country are located right here in western North Carolina. And depending on who you ask, this may be the best.”

The rest areas were built for $5 million as part of a larger $271 million project to widen I-26 in Henderson County. 

NCDOT says that 64,000 people per day drove this stretch of I-26 in 2019.


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