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The Four US 70's of Selma & Smithfield

One of the more unique set-ups for US 70 within North Carolina, and the entire country, is the four different versions of US 70 that serve the Johnston County towns of Selma and Smithfield.  Although at times very confusing to even the local driver, US 70, US 70A, US 70 Business, and US 70 By-Pass each have a specific link to the evolution of US 70 through this area.

Timeline:

 

Original Routing: When US 70 was established in 1926, the highway designation followed the original route of the Central Highway through the area.  It would pass to the south of Pine Level and into Smithfield.  (Map source: 1927 Clason's. Courtesy: Mike Roberson)



1928 - Mid 1950s:  For nearly three decades, US 70 traversed west from Princeton, then along today's US 70A through Pine Level, to Selma, before heading south on US 301 towards Smithfield.  In Smithfield, US 70 then left US 301 to head towards Clayton and Raleigh along what is now US 70 Business.  (Map source: 1939 NC Official).
Mid 1950s - 1972:  A new alignment for US 70 opened to the south from Princeton to Smithfield.  The original US 70 through Pine Level to Selma was renamed US 70A, which it is still called today.  It is not known it US 70A West would be signed along US 301 South to US 70 in Smithfield.  The dashed line in the 1958 General Drafting Map is for a then under construction Interstate 95.  Both US 70 and US 70A would have interchanges with the new highway.


1973-1991:  US 70A would be extended westwards over secondary roads to meet US 70 just beyond Wilson's Mills.  As traffic increased on both routes within Smithfield and near the I-95 interchanges, the state would begin to widen US 70A from Wilson's Mills to I-95 and US 70 from Smithfield towards Princeton.  At the same time, a new four lane highway was being built from US 70A's interchange with I-95 to US 70 a few miles east of I-95.  (Map Source: 1973-74 NC Official).


1991-1998: With the completion of a new four lane highway from US 70A at I-95 to US 70 four miles east of I-95, US 70 was realigned and split into three different routes.  US 70 now was moved onto what was the 1973 extension of US 70A from Wilson's Mills to I-95.  It then followed the new alignment to a widened US 70 seven miles west of Princeton.  The US 70 that traveled from Wilson's Mills through Smithfield was redesignated US 70 Business.  US 70A was truncated from Wilson's Mills to US 70 just east of its interchange with I-95.  US 70 was widened in Wilson's Mills in 1993.  (Map source: 1992-93 NC Official)


1998 - Today: Heavy traffic was still an issue with US 70 specifically at US 301 and its interchange with I-95 (Exit 97).  As a result, the state built a freeway bypass of the congested area in 1998.  The freeway begins one mile west of US 301 and rejoins US 70 one mile east of I-95.  This new freeway was deemed US 70.  After the new highway's opening, US 70 through Selma was renamed US 70 Business; but because of confusion with US 70 Business through Smithfield two miles to the south, it was quickly renamed back to US 70 with the new highway gaining the By-pass banner.  By-Pass US 70 does not have an interchange with Interstate 95.  Access to the interstate is possible from US 70 by either exits 336 or 334.  (Map Source: 2004 NC Official).

Coming Soon: With the approval of an Interstate from Clayton to Morehead City, Interstate 42 will be routed along what is currently US 70 By-Pass through the area.  It will also run along regular US 70 to the immediate east and west.  Interestingly, there are no current plans to connect Interstate 42 to its north-south counterpart - Interstate 95. Traffic will continue to use the current US 70 connection through Selma to connect between the two interstate.  So soon a new chapter in the area's colorful highway history is set to begin.






Photos:



US 70 By-Pass splits from US 70 East (Exit 334) just outside of Selma.  Although a freeway, US 70 By-Pass does not have any direct access to Interstate 95.  Access to the Interstate is available via US 70.  Interstate 42 will follow US 70 By-Pass.  (Photo Taken by Brian LeBlanc)


The split of US 70 West (Exit 336) and By-Pass US 70 just east of Interstate 95 near Selma.  Interstate 42 will follow US 70 By-Pass.  (Photo Taken by Brian LeBlanc)


A look at the US 70/US 301 intersection from US 301 North.  This heavily congested intersection was one of the reasons the US 70 By-Pass was built in the late 90s.  This also is the southern terminus of NC 39, for a brief time in the 1990s, NC 39 South would continue on US 70 East to end at I-95.  (Photo taken by Brian LeBlanc)





  • US 70 @ NCRoads.com Annex ---Mike Roberson
  • US 70A @ NCRoads.com Annex ---Mike Roberson
  • US 70 Business @ NCRoads.com Annex ---Mike Roberson
  • Brian LeBlanc
  • Mike Roberson
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