WLOS News 13 announced the results of the television station’s investigative analysis of Buncombe County highways. While congestion continually gets worse, it was determined that population growth was not a factor, since the county has typically added only 3,000 residents a year for a current total of around 250,000. By way of contrast, the county was visited by 10.8 million tourists last year, 80 percent of whom drove themselves in automobiles. TRIP, a national transportation research group, estimated each Asheville driver lost $380 a year waiting in traffic. Last year, an estimated 18 hours per capita were lost; this year, the number is up to 26. The three worst chronic backlogs occurred on I-240 near the Jeff Bowen Bridge, at the I-26 and Brevard Road interchange, and on I-40 East approaching I-26. In these places, tie-ups can stretch exit-to-exit, with delays of about half an hour. Traffic on stretches of I-240 in West Asheville exceeded the North Carolina Department of Transportation’s limits 10 years ago, and many interchanges are not complaint with current standards. Although attempts to upgrade the highways have been postponed by citizen protests for 28 years, the DOT is moving forward. Land acquisitions for some parts of the I-26 connector will begin next year, while designs for other segments are going back to the drawing board again.