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I-74/US 74 Freeway Now Open Eastbound from Maxton to Lumberton

Since Duke wasn't playing today and I figured all the Raleigh people may want to stay and watch the NC State-ECU game, I decided to take a tour to see the progress of the I-74 freeway in Robeson County. Since there had been no publication about an opening date I assumed the best I would find was a change in exit numbers based on an e-mail I sent to the project's engineer earlier this year in which he acknowledged the numbers were wrong. I thus was surprised when I got to (still) Exit 320 on I-74/US 74 and noticed traffic no longer had to get off the highway to proceed on the interstate eastbound. When I got to Exit still numbered 226 I had another surprise....
The road was open beyond the exit. Thus curious, I decided to proceed on. The next exit as listed in the plans should be Dew Road, Pembroke. It was, but notice the exit number...


It is now 203, 27 miles less than it should be and equal to the number for the milepost I sent to the NCDOT earlier in the year when I noticed the exit numbers were too large. The remaining exits match my mileposts (as posted in my I-74 Exit List) almost exactly:
Exit Plan Mile # Malme Mile # Actual Exit #
Dew Rd, Pembroke 230 203 203
Back Swamp Rd 234 207 207
I-95/US 301 235A/B 208A/B 209A/B
Alternate US 74 237 210 210
I assume as part of completing the project the rest of the exits starting in Laurinburg will be changed as well, I will post what those numbers should be on my exit list. I am assuming that NCDOT will not force the traveling public to use two sets of exit numbers on one continuous freeway.

Continuing on, here are some other photos of some of the signs along the eastbound route:

The speed limit is 70 mph, though they have not adjusted up the speed around the Exit (for now) 320 interchange which is still 55.
Here's the next exit eastbound Back Swamp Road, there's no obvious reason for an interchange here, development will occur, I guess, eventually.
Here's the first sign for the upcoming I-95/US 301 interchange, the only ground mounted sign.
The remainder are overhead assemblies, with separate ramps for north and southbound. The freeway becomes 3 lanes in each direction at that point.

Here's the overheads at Exit 209B. Coming back around I took the ramp that leads to C/D ramps paralleling I-95.

All is ready except opening the ramp and removing the cover on the I-74/US 74 West sign. The east signs on the C/D ramps were uncovered, but the interchange was not open and all I-74 signs on I-95 going south were covered as well.

Here's the last exit currently with a number, US 74 Alternate, there is one more exit, NC 41, but the signs haven't been updated there yet. They still have to do work to complete this final 2 mile section to bring it up to interstate standards, update the signs and close the former left turn ramps. The traffic on US 74 west still uses the old route alignment. The still need to fully grade between the old and new highways before this section can be open. The section west of I-95 was being worked on and appeared almost ready to open.

After turning around and using the existing US 74, I accessed the Dew Road interchange by taking Chicken Road off of US 74 to confirm all the westbound ramps were still not open to the east of NC 710. The eastbound signs were up, as expected, the one control city listed was Wilmington. The western ramps were closed and all the signs for the westbound roadway were up, but covered.

I believe construction could be totally finished in the next few weeks. I'll wait until an official announcement to make another tour, other interested parties are invited.

Comments

Anonymous said…
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Bob Malme said…
NCDOT will open the rest of the freeway (at least west of I-95) after a ribbon cutting ceremony on Friday Sept. 26 at 10AM.
Bob Malme said…
The road is now open in both directions according to this NCDOT press release:
https://apps.dot.state.nc.us/pio/releases/details.aspx?r=1869s

Hopefully more photos of the route will be up soon.

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